Troopers From Different Sides

Still getting far less painting done than I had hoped/intended, but progress is nonetheless being made. We played our first games of Imperial Assault recently, and it was enough to inspire me to get some more Star Wars models done – reinforcements for both the Rebel Alliance and the Empire.

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These models are just to round out the campaign in the Imperial Assault box set, and also make a start on the Twin Shadows campaign which we will likely be doing next. In all cases, I used the Sorastro Painting Guides on Youtube, who makes these models booth quick to paint and good to look at on the table.

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The basic Rebel Troopers are very iconic, and I kicked myself for not getting them done sooner as we had a mission where they should have appeared – we ended up using the included counters instead, which is really not the way forward.

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The Rebel Saboteurs begin to add some aliens into the Rebel force, though I think these guys won’t be showing up until Twin Shadows.

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Finally, you cannot go wrong with more Stormtroopers. There is an additional unit added here (which do not seem to be too bad in the actual game, though they die quick enough when the Rebels concentrate on them), but it is the heavy weapons Stormtroopers I am looking forward to using. If they are half as good as the E-Web trooper, the Rebels are going to rue their appearance.

I actually managed to get some more Prospero models put together over the weekend, so they should be appearing soon, and I made a deal with a gaming store who sent me a whole bunch of Imperial Assault models last week – pretty much everything needed to flesh out Twin Shadows.

So, plenty to be getting on with!

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I Have an Issue with Age of Sigmar

Over the past few weeks, I have been steadily coming to a conclusion – I have something of an issue with Age of Sigmar…

Throughout the Realmgate Wars, I was pretty heavily into the game – nearly 2,500 miniatures painted, used in nearly a hundred battles, all following the storyline in the campaign books and Battletomes.

And then, around the turn of 2016/2017, things just stopped.

This first cropped up in Battletomes such as the Kharadron Overlords. In previous books, narrative Battleplans always had a story behind them (that would be the narrative part), that charted the progress of characters, the introduction of new armies, and events occurring within the Mortal Realms. These ‘minor’ characters would pop up in several Battleplans (like Slann Starmaster Zectoka), or at least be linked to others (the Vampire Mistress Cyssandra, a hand maiden of Neferata and whose sisters appeared in other battles).

This all served to create a cohesive background to the Age of Sigmar, giving it a great deal more weight.

When the ‘new wave’ of Battletomes (such as the Kharadron Overlords and Disciples of Tzeentch) started dropping, new Battleplans were included – but they were now absent story. They were instead ‘representative’ of the army, in a ‘this is how they fight’ kind of way.

I could understand this approach. It was a shame, but I could understand it.

People had been asking more from Age of Sigmar, and these Battletomes were a response to that – Matched Play was now a thing, and ‘hobby’ articles had started to appear. All good stuff, but it had been at the expense of the ongoing background story.

Things looked up with the release of the Blightwar box set. Included within this set was a new chapter in the Age of Sigmar story, along with three connected Battleplans – best of all, they had a solid story behind them.

Granted, instead of the 4-5 pages of story Battleplans in the past had featured, these only had one page a piece. But, you know what? That was fine by me. Bit of a shame we were not seeing more, but I understood that space was needed for other areas of the game, and it seemed the best of both worlds. Matched players got their bits and pieces, we Narrative gamers got our storyline.

I’ll ignore the fact that this major Blightwar does not seem to have been revisited in other books since…

Then Malign Portents appeared, an advance on the storyline as significant as any chapter in the Realmgate Wars. And, it looked pretty funky – Nagash getting up to new tricks, with the forces of Destruction, Chaos and Order marching off to stop him. Couldn’t wait.

But there is very, very little story here.

A couple of handfuls of pages cover the scope of the battles taking place and, while there are Narrative Battleplans in the book, they have no story attached to them.

Well, you say, simply make up your own stories for them. Sure, I could do that. But I could also do it for the Matched Play Battleplans the book also includes. I could have been doing that all along – but without the story being put front and centre, Age of Sigmar loses a lot.

I have a suspicion that (miniatures aside which are, of course, up to GW’s usual climbing standards) things are being done for a price, and GW is no longer justifying big hardbacks for something as trivial as story. Malign Portents is an 80 page book – 80 pages to introduce a major new plot development. The Realmgate Wars books (five of them) were each around 300 pages.

This is a big difference.

It is not as if I can delve into the Black Library to support the narrative behind the game – after a strong start with the Realmgate Wars, fictional support for Age of Sigmar all but disappeared for well over a year, and it has been fairly lacklustre since. They are now recycling short stories from their older compilations as digital releases and, aside from that, there have been precious few substantial books.

A year ago, I was worried about having to make a choice between a revived Age of Sigmar storyline and new Warhammer 40,000 campaigns. I had thought that GW had retarded work on Age of Sigmar to prepare for the new edition of 40k (which might well have been the case), and there were certainly major wars in the new rulebook that would make for great narrative campaigns – the Konor campaign they ran was a great start, and one we engaged in. For all five battles…

After that, nothing. I have a nasty feeling that the majority of feedback GW received on both games revolved around one term – Tournament Play. Even if people never went to tournaments, they wanted everything ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ and woe betide either game if their opponent received any special advantage.

So, where do I go from here?

Well, absent a new range of campaign books from GW (and I would, at this stage, happily accept such things from Forge World, regardless of the inevitable high cost), I might well be going into a state of semi-hibernation.

You will still see new armies being painted and posted here (I have a hankering to do a Daughters of Khaine force), and I am still slowly plugging away at Heresy-era armies for a Prospero campaign (the Forge World book for that is more than adequate for the kind of games I am after). I did consider the new Star Wars Legion, but I have certain philosophical issues with the way FFG are approaching that kind of game.

For now, I think I will carry on painting up some more Crypt Ghouls and get round to doing my Kharadron ships – after that… I’ll see where my fancy takes me.

I just don’t think the Sigmar narrative is going to be part of it for a fair while.

Vermin on the Field

This update is a bit of a cheat, as I actually completed these additions to the Skavenblight Scramblers earlier this year, but have only just got round to photographing them.

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These six models are basically the additional resin casts from Forge World that you can use to bulk out your Skaven team. Will a tad on the pricey side (it is Forge World, after all), they do serve to break up the ‘samey’ variation among the plastic set.

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You also get access to two Skaven star players, starting off with Hakflem Skuttlespike, a mean-as-hell two-headed four-armed blitzer. However, may favourite has to be the Fat Rat, Glart Smashrip – there is just so much character in this model.

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Rounding the additions to the team off are the four rats from the booster pack, with two Gutter Runners (always useful in a Skaven team), a Thrower and another Blitzer.

Still haven’t played the new Blood Bowl beyond the XBox, but the teams are now filling out nicely!

On the painting table now (and for the foreseeable future) is everything I had put together, based and undercoated for the Christmas Project but did not get round to  – going to be taking it at an easy pace, kicking off with some more Crypt Ghouls and the first of the Kharadron ships. After that… maybe a new army?

 

Legio Custodes

Well, it has been a while since I posted here – not since December, I think!

In a nutshell, I managed to get very badly distracted by Elite: Dangerous, and if you want to catch up on those adventures, you can take a quick trip to Cosmic Flipper Tours.

However, while the speed is nowhere near my usual supersonic self, I have managed to put paint to brush and get the odd little batch of miniatures out over the past couple of weeks, and first out of the gate were additions to the Legio Custodes force:

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I had been toying with the idea of doing an Adeptus Custodes army with the release of the new Codex, but I decided against it for now – just sticking the the Heresy-era Custodes is likely to take a fair bit of my painting time. Another squad or two would go down well, plus I have already acquired some Dreadnoughts and (Heresy-era) jetbikes that should join the painting queue at some point (it is a very long queue, as I still have all the models I was intending to get done over the Christmas break…).

First up with this little lot was a new squad – not optimised at all, as I bought it already built on eBay – as you really need at least two squads for the 7th edition rules. Painting-wise, they are a mirror of the first squad, and both were painted using the Burning of Prospero guide (an essential purchase for any Heresy-era project, I would say).

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For the first squad, I had hived off the squad leader as a Shield-Captain hero but, with new models now available, I figured that was quite lazy. So, instead, I painted up this chap, Tribune Ixion Hale, one of the Warhammer World exclusive models.

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I have left the best until last, of course, the first bit of heavy metal for the Legio – the Caladius Grav-Tank, complete with Accelerator Cannon.

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I added a couple of transfers from the Forge World sheet, but did not want to go overboard on them as this vehicle has clean lines. Despite a bit more gun metal work, the Caladius did not really take much longer than the squad to get painted up – most of it was drying time.

More models are already on the painting table, and I am going to try to do at least a little every week so, fingers crossed, posts here will become a regular thing once more!

Thunderscorn

I haven’t gone mad for Age of Sigmar models of late (and I still have to finish off my Kharadron Overlords), but these Dragon Ogors have been sitting in my ‘plastic pile’ for an absolute age (pretty much since Sigmar came out!), and I finally got cracking on them last week.

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I already had a small unit of three Dragon Ogors done, but they were really feeling lonely – they needed some friends and a leader.

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The Shaggoth is so old he is actually a (very heavy) metal model. He was also missing a horn, but I snipped a spine in half from a Chaos Spawn to replace it, and now I bet you cannot tell which one is the replacement!

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To do a ‘proper’ Thunderscorn force, I should probably do a third unit but, for now, I think these chaps will do just fine.

Now I need to get cracking on with the Death Guard and try to get that army ‘finished’.

Fate of Konor: Countdown to Destruction

The forces of the Imperium are strained trying to contain the invading armies, and the Walking Pox is running amok amidst the dwindling population of Drenthal. Imperial High Command has therefore taken the decision to overcharge the fusion core of Terebral Station Sigma – all loyalist forces must fight their way to the starport or perish in the destruction of the entire planet…

 

Armies

In the rush to get off planet, armies are hardly cohesive, so we are taking this opportunity to use smaller forces, at 60 points.

Death Guard (Battalion)
Daemon Prince of Nurgle (Tainted Regeneration, Suppurating Plate, Miasma of Pestilence)
Malignant Plaguecaster (Miasma of Pestilence, Blades of Putrefaction)
Noxious Blightbringer
Poxwalkers x 20
Plague Marines x 7 (Power Fist, Plasma Gun)
Cultists x 20

Daemons of Nurgle (Patrol)
Herald of Nurgle (Miasma of Pestilence)
Plaguebearers x 30
Nurglings x 6

The forces of Nurgle are starting to find their pace now – still don’t have enough Plague Marines (I foresee a big block of 20 in the near future, tooled up for close combat…), but the Plaguebearers are now 30-strong, we have the Daemon Prince in there and… we now have access to the new Codex – hello, Tainted Regeneration, Suppurating Plate and Blades of Putrefaction!

Marines Errant
Captain (Chapter Master)
Librarian
Venerable Dreadnought (Assault Cannon)
Tactical Squad (Missile Launcher, Flamer)
Tactical Squad (Missile Launcher)
Tactical Squad (Missile Launcher)
Assault Squad (Lightning Claws)

The Marines Errant are bringing one of the big guns for this fight, as their Chapter Master desperately leads the retreat, advised by his Librarian.

 

Mission: Countdown to Destruction

At the end of this battle (random game length), the Marines Errant will count up the Power Level of all units leaving the battlefield by the Death Guard’s table edge (not counting Flyers). If this totals 20 or more, then gain a major victory – any other result is a major victory for the Death Guard.

To complicate things, the Marines Errant will find that the ground disappears up to 6″ from their own table edge every round, and anything standing there will fall into the planet’s core, ensuring they are being driven forward at a fair pace!

To make things even more exciting (and to avoid easy wins) we are also not going to allow Reinforcements to teleport/drop onto the table.

The mission itself has two new Stratagems for the Death Guard – Aerial Dominance allows them to recycle destroyed Flyers, while Delaying Tactics allows the Death Guard to try to stop the Marines Errant from falling back (the cowards!). For their part, the Marines Errant can use Forced March, which allows them to roll three dice when Advancing, picking the best result.

The Fate of Konor campaign also introduces yet another Stratagem (Fighter Ace) allowing a single Flyer to gain a +1 bonus to hit rolls for the whole battle.

 

Deployment

The forces of Nurgle skulked around the ruins as the world literally tore itself apart, with a huge horde of Plaguebearers holding the centre, supported on the flanks by Poxwalkers and Cultists. The Plague Marines, Plaguecaster and Daemon Prince took position just a little further back, ready to plug any gaps.

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For their part, the Marines Errant lined up in the centre, determined to punch their way through before the ground fell from their feet.

 

Round One

The Marines Errant wasted no time, and jogged forward, aware that behind them the apocalypse was happening. They were immediately confronted by waves of Nurglings who fell over one another as they giggled and reached out to the Marines.

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Working together, the Tactical Squads gunned down the Nurglings as their Librarian created a Null Zone that robbed the daemons of their vitality. Nurglings burst apart in a spray of pus and filth as Bolter rounds detonated around them.

Taking advantage of their momentum, one Tactical Squad swept round the ruined Shrine of the Aquila to confront the Poxwalkers lurching towards them. Supporting fire from the Venerable Dreadnought ripped into the Poxwalkers before the Tactical Marines drew their Combat Knives and set about driving the zombies back with devastating efficiency.

IMG_9563 The Marines Errant had worse luck in the centre as a Tactical Squad crashed into the Plaguebearers alongside an Assault Squad. Clouds of flies obscured their vision and clogged their breather masks, but they managed to banish four daemons and watched as another three faded from view, their hold on the material world broken.

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Another Tactical Squad burst through the door of the Shrine of the Aquila, but halted as they saw a squad of Plague Marines waiting for them.

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By now, all the Marines Errant were engaged, with just the Chapter Master and Librarian holding back, waiting for their moment as the Venerable Dreadnought continued to unleash supporting fire with its Assault Cannon.

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Seeing the Assault Marines held in place by the Plaguebearers, the Cult Leader ordered his devotees to pull back, ready to guard against a breakout by the Marines Errant.

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The Daemon Prince, however, had more forthright ideas. Striding forward, he ignored the Tactical Squad fighting the Poxwalkers and turned the corner of the Shrine of the Aquila to find not only a Venerable Dreadnought, but the Librarian and Chapter Master too.

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Ignoring the Dreadnought, the Daemon Prince hurled a bolt of pestilent energy at the Chapter Master, but found his psychic energy drained by the Librarian’s Null Zone. As the Malignant Plaguecaster threw a Miasma of Pestilence over him, the Daemon Prince lumbered forward to knock the Librarian flying with one sweep of his Hellforged Sword.

Inside the Shrine, the Plague Marines advanced on the Tactical Squad who had intruded upon them, gunning down two Marines, then cutting down another three with their Plague Knives, This was too much for one Marine who, under the influence of the Blightbringer’s Tocsin of Misery, turned and ran for cover.

Not far away, the Plague Swords of the Plaguebearers started to drip with rotting filth as the Plaguecaster gifted them with Blades of Putrefaction. The daemons were quick to capitalise on this as they hacked down four more Assault Marines.

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Round Two

Behind the Marines Errant, the world was in turmoil as a massive section of the earth fell into the core of the planet. The Chapter Master gave a wary look behind him and knew time was running out. Barking orders, he commanded his Marines to make a general retreat, breaking out towards the starport where they could and holding the enemy if that was impossible.

The three surviving Assault Marines needed no encouragement as they gunned their jump packs and leapt high over the heads of the Plaguebearers. However, the Cultists had been waiting for just such a move and were already on their way to cut the Assault Squad off.

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At the front of the Shrine of the Aquila, the Chapter Master summoned the two closest Tactical Squads and he directed their fire against the Daemon Prince who seemed all but invulnerable.

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When the smoke had cleared from their Bolters, Flamers, grenades, and Krak Missiles, the Daemon Prince was still standing, leering at the Librarian and Chapter Master. Then, the Venerable Dreadnought charged him from behind.

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The Daemon Prince was nearly knocked off his feet by the Dreadnought’s mighty Power Fist, and he stumbled against the steps of the Shrine before he could recover.

Undaunted, the Daemon Prince regained his feet and grinned at his foes as the wounds he had sustained began to knit and heal before their eyes. Waving a great hand, he then cast a Miasma of Pestilence about himself, but was too arrogant in this display of power and was savaged by a Predator of the Warp before he managed to banish the errant daemon.

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However, the balance of the fight had now been reversed and as the Venerable Dreadnought flailed helplessly against the Daemon Prince’s layered defences, the Hellforged Sword started hacking huge slices of armour plating. The Tactical Squads supporting the Chapter Master and Dreadnought quickly found themselves sandwiched between the Daemon Prince and the Plaguebearers who marched forward to engage them.

Across the battlefield, a Tactical Squad had fought its way past the Poxwalkers and was now sprinting for the starport – however, they had not done so unnoticed…

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Despite the range, the Plague Marines laid down terribly accurate fire with their Bolters and Plasma Gun, and two Marines fell to the ground. Another two were immolated within their armour as the Plaguecaster summoned the energy of the Warp to stop them.

The Assault Squad, too, was within sight of the starport, but the Cultists were hot on their heels, gunning down two Marines with their auto-weapons, leaving just the Sergeant standing. Screaming prayers to Grandfather Nurgle, they rushed in, but Lightning Claws were their only reward as three were cut down in seconds.

 

Round Three

As the grounds continued to plummet into the core of the planet, the Venerable Dreadnought staggered away from the Daemon Prince. The Librarian tried to summon destructive energies from the Warp to finish off the Daemon Prince but found his talent suppressed by a gleeful Plaguecaster. At the entrance to the Shrine, a Tactical Squad unleashed every weapon they had, doing little damage, but distracting the Daemon Prince long enough for the Venerable Dreadnought to turn around and blast the creature apart with a burst of its Assault Cannon.

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However, the Plaguebearers were now in position to use their full weight against the Marines Errant and a bitter fight erupted as both daemon and Marine fell.

Seeing no chance to help his brothers, the Assault Sergeant fired up his jump pack once more, and raced to the starport.

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The Death Guard had stalled the main advance of the Marines Errant, but small units were beginning to slip through the gaps – and so the chase to the starport began.

Furious at having let the Assault Sergeant slip through their fingers, the Cultists ran for the Shrine of the Aquila, eager to prove themselves by facing the Venerable Dreadnought as it marched forward. The Plague Marines, joined by the Plaguecaster and Blightbringer, were far more pragmatic, and they jogged forward after the Tactical Squad that was also nearing the starport.

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Long-ranged Bolter and Plasma fire claimed two of the Tactical Marines, but the Plaguecaster was the only one close enough to reach them. Charging in, he blocked their path, but they dodged the swings of his Corrupted Staff.

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Round Four

A massive quake shook the entire battlefield as the ground fell away, taking three Plaguebearers tumbling with it.

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The Chapter Master and Librarian now had their backs to a fiery death while the hordes of Nurgle lay between them and safety – nodding to one another, they turned and ran for the starport, hoping to find some way through.

Further ahead, the three surviving Tactical Marines worked together bowling over the Plaguecaster as they raced for the starport, catching the last gunship before it took off.

As the gunship fired its engines and rocketed into orbit, the world below them collapsed in upon itself.

 

Conclusion

Short but intense! The Marines Errant claimed victory by getting to the starport but, with just four Marines making it to the waiting gunship, they could not have been proud.

The big question, of course… how did the new Death Guard Codex work?

Overall, well! The Daemon Prince bit way more off than he could chew, but he successfully tied up the Venerable Dreadnought and two characters while he fought, and the rest of the Marines Errant were blocked solidly by the Death Guard and Nurgle daemons. Only the Assault Sergeant, who used his speed (and was really very lucky not to be mobbed by those Cultists) and the Tactical Squad, who threw caution to the wind and just legged it, managed to reach safety.

Everyone else probably died on that battlefield!

One lesson is clear – you need a lot of Command Points for the Death Guard, as there is always a Stratagem you will want to employ (to the extent that using them for re-rolls seems a waste). For mid-sized games, a Battalion and an Outrider/Vanguard/Spearhead detachment might be the way to go and, if you can squeeze everything in, two Battalions.

However, the final analysis has to be that the Death Guard were tough to kill before, and they are even tougher now!

 

 

Codex: Death Guard

When I picked up my first Death Guard models in the Dark Imperium set, I really did not intend to do them as a full army. After all, it was not as if I did not have plenty to be getting on with. However, there was just something about their sculpts and colour scheme that hooked me, and after I started playing them, oh boy, I knew they were for me!

So, it was with great interest that I started paging through the new Codex when it plopped onto my desk.

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There have probably been more previews and leaks about this Codex than any other, so I am not going to give you a page-by-page, blow-by-blow account – instead, I’ll cover the highlights and what in particular tickled me…

In terms of the background behind the Death Guard, they have been rooted firmly in the Heresy-era, rather than just being marauding warbands of diseased marines. This may be because Mortarion has arrived on the battlefields of the 41st Millennium but it does give the legion a solid base. And if you really fancy a challenge, the organisation of the entire legion is provided, should you feel the urge ti paint it all…

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By my very rough calculations, that would be about 2,500 Plague Marines, plus all the other bits and pieces (you have to figure the Poxwalkers and Cultists will push that number right up…).

The colour schemes of various companies and warbands may provide a little less inspiration than normal as, aside from one pale Plague Marines, they are all varying shades of green. Not that you are likely to expect anything else.

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Unlike the Chaos Space Marine and Grey Knight Codexes, the Death Guard are getting a ‘proper’ release, which means new units to get to grips with!

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Starting off with the characters, we get:

Mortarion: The Primarch, very hard. Don’t mess with him.
Foul Blightspawn: Champions who specialise in alchemy, bringing a variety of diseases to battle.
Biologus Putrifiers:  These guys now watch the spread of disease and work out how to make them more effective. Tend to have their blight grenades explode when you shoot them.
Plague Surgeons: Once Apothecaries, they no longer fix their brother marines (the Death Guard are somewhat resilient anyway) and instead culture diseases among their fellows. They also nick gene-seed from loyalist marines.
Tallymen: Sort of like priests, the Tallymen like counting things – shots fired, fleeing enemies, plague-ridden flies. The other Death Guard enjoy this a lot. The Tallymen also act as guardians to the most horrific viral weapons in the legion’s arsenal.

So, the new characters tend to either be developments of the original legion, or are ‘normal’ Death Guard who have gone up the ranks, become champions, and then ‘specialised’.

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We get new units and vehicles too:

Blightlord Terminators: Elite Cataphractii-equipped infantry, eclipsed only by…
Deathshroud Terminators: Those who know their Heresy-era will recognise these guys, the elite bodyguards of Mortarion, pre-daemon. Now, they are just nasty, but more of that later…
Myphitic Blight-Haulers: Kind of a Bloat-Drone with tracks, these little tanks pack a good anti-armour punch while chucking out gasses that cloak nearby Death Guard.
Plagueburst Crawlers: Mobile artillery, but part daemon.
Foetid Bloat-Drones: Not actually new, as we got one in the Dark Imperium set, but these chaps now have access to heavy blight launchers and flesh-mowers, so they are worth a mention.

One thing to mention here – the artwork of the Beasts of Nurgle is very different to the current Finecast model and, try as I might, I cannot find a single Beast in any of the army shots of this book. New plastic Beast of Nurgle confirmed?

Anyway, what are these guys like to play? Well, if you have been messing around with Death Guard in the new edition, you will already know the combination of T5 and Disgustingly Resilient is pretty cool, Miasma is powerful, Poxwalkers are fun, and Bloat-Drones can really ruin someone’s day. Oh, and that the Lord of Contagion is actually quite hard once he gets into combat.

Have things improved, we wonder?

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The ‘common’ rules for the Death Guard include Death to the False Emperor (which is nice, so long as you remember to actually use it) and Plague Weapons (which used to more or less mean knives and swords but there are many, many new plague weapons in this book), which we have seen before, along with Disgustingly Resilient. All well and good.

However, if you keep to the Death Guard keyword in your detachments, you now also get Inexorable Advance (infantry and Helbrutes ignore penalties for shooting and moving with Heavy and Assault weapons, plus Rapid Fire up to 18″), and Plague Host (Troops grab objectives, even if the enemy has already got there).

Plague Host brings the Death Guard up to spec with loyalist marines, but Inexorable Advance is really quite funky. Bolters and Plasma Guns get a bit more terrifying but, more to the point, your Helbrutes can now peg it straight towards the enemy without losing accuracy. This would be the first clue that the new Death Guard have respectable long-ranged firepower…

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It is worth paying attention to Datasheets you think you have already seen before. For example, you will note that Daemon Princes have become cheaper for the Death Guard, and come equipped with Disgustingly Resilient. Combined with some other bits and pieces we will come to in a minute, we might just be seeing the new ‘default’ warlord for Death Guard armies, though it should be noted that the Lord of Contagion has also had a drop in cost.

Plaguebearers had a drop in cost in the Chaos Space Marines Codex, and that has been repeated here. However, the Plague Drones have not only become cheaper, but they have received an extra Wound each – still not sure they are all that, though they are fully capable of holding up enemy units for a while…

Plague Marines have the same options as those in Codex: Chaos Space Marines, but they are certainly worth a careful look. I am thinking units of 20, geared to close combat, might be a way forward – hellishly expensive, but nigh on unstoppable once you add a few bits and pieces that we are about to come to.

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The new characters sit squarely in the Elites choices, alongside the existing Noxious Blightbringer, so you don’t really have any cheap choices for HQs if you want something light to go alongside your Lord or Daemon Prince. However, the new guys are focussed squarely on improving other units rather than being cold killers in their own right (again, like the Blightbringer who speeds up other units).

The Foul Blightspawn is primarily around to stall enemy charges, removing their ability to fight first in a round. However, you will also be eyeing up his Plague Sprayer – this weapon is Assault D6 (9″ range) and automatically hits its target. The AP-3 and D3 are just mean, but the icing on the cake (the pus on the pustule?) is S 2D6 – an average of 7.

That thing is a Terminator-killer, whichever way you look at it, and characters are not going to be too happy getting hit either.

The Biologus Purifier pumps up Blight Grenades thrown by other units, turning them from Frag-a-likes to S4 and D2, with a potential for an additional mortal. That might be worth a shrug on your part, but keep it in mind as we begin to cover the Stratagems…

The Plague Surgeon is another model to keep close to your massed Plague Marine units, as he re-rolls any 1’s they make for being Disgustingly Resilient. His Gene-Seed Thief ability also means he is pretty handy in close combat against similarly-ranked loyalist Marine heroes.

The Tallyman will be another popular choice as he not only grants re-rolls to hits for nearby Death Guard, he also has a chance of refunding your Command Points – and, believe me, you will use a lot of Stratagems in a Death Guard army…

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Well, those are the characters. There is still plenty more to get excited about…

Deathshroud Terminators: At 11 points for 3, these guys are hellishly expensive, but with 3 S8 attacks at AP-3 and D3 damage, they will tear apart, well, just about anything. On top of that, any Death Guard characters nearby will gain an extra attack and, if they happen to be hit, one of the Deathshroud will step in to take the blow. Your Lord of Contagion should never teleport onto the battlefield without three of these guys.
Blightlord Terminators: These guys are 14 points for 5, which may seem a little more reasonable. You cannot really argue with T5 Terminators though, it has to be said, the weapon selections of the Loyalists are probably stronger. However, you will get a lot of mileage out of the Flail of Corruption, which will fairly reap anyone in power amour, and the Balesword they all carry is solid, if not exciting (though their Aura of Rust can increase it to AP-4). More durable than killy, the Blightlords will still cause the enemy issues when they teleport in.
Foetid Bloat-Drone: The drone now can have a heavy blight launcher, which gives it respectable (if not awesome) fire power at long range. However, the star here is the Fleshmower which, if I am reading this right, gives it 9 attacks (3 base, plus 6 for the weapon’s special rule, right?) in close combat at S8, AP-2 and D2. Tactical Squads, Chaplains… you’ll mow them all down with a couple of these.
Myphitic Blight-Hauler: The drone on tracks – comes with a missile launcher and multi-melta, which cannot be changed, but have three in a squadron and you are hitting on 3+ on the move. Decent enough for a mid-sized anti-tank unit. The really funny things are that it also gives Death Guard infantry cover, has a daemonic invun, and is Disgustingly Resilient – all on a platform that is T7 and W8, and costs less than a Blight-Drone. Count me in.
Plagueburst Crawler: Short version? Get three of these. T8, W12, Daemonic and Disgustingly Resilient. Add Entropy Cannon, that are basically lascannon that are a smidgen weaker and shorter ranged, but have AP-4, and a Plagueburst Mortar that requires no line of sight, and still kicks out D6 attacks at S8, AP-2 and D3 damage. Either have this on the front line, or tuck it behind a building and when the inevitable deep strike comes, kick out twin Plaguespitters which operate at S8 on this beast.

Now, these new units are all very exciting but, funnily enough, I think what really makes the Death Guard sing as an army can be found in the last few pages of the book.

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Let’s start with the Warlord traits.

The very first trait might be an automatic choice for you (until you get to the others, at least), as it effectively gives your warlord 4+ Disgustingly Resilient, for anything other than mortal wounds. That alone will keep your man in the game for a little longer.

Living Plague dishes out mortal wounds within 3″ of your warlord, which is easy enough to dismiss, but there are lots of different ways of kicking out mortals in this army, and they all start to add up…

However, you might well have your head turned by Tainted Regeneration – your warlord heals a wound at the start of each player’s turn. That is two wounds per round. Given how tough Death Guard warlords are in the first place, this might well put them beyond the reach of many enemies.

That Tainted Regeneration is going to be tough to beat but, depending on who you normally fight, Hulking Physique on your Lord of Contagion, taking him up to T6 could be worth a serious look, as S3 attacks (lasguns, puny mortals, etc) will just bounce off him all day.

In a similar vein to the last two, Rotten Constitution reduces all Damage by 1 (to a minimum of 1) which can really cut some of the weapons wielded by loyalist Space Marine heroes down to size.

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The Warlord Traits are good – the Stratagems are even better, and really start to make the synergies within the Death Guard shine. Here are some highlights:

Cloud of Flies: Gives one infantry unit cover when they are in the open, for one measly Command Point. Think about that 20-man Plague Marine unit I suggested earlier, who are now pint-sized Terminators. Or, think about Terminators, who now bounce Krak Missiles on a 3+.
Grandfather’s Blessings: Heals an infantry model (or brings one back). This could have saved my Lord of Contagion more than once in the past…
Gifts of Decay: Gets your more relics – normally, I might skip this one, but the Death Guard relics are actually quite funky.
The Dead Walk Again: Every model (friend or foe) that dies within 7″ of Poxwalkers, becomes a Poxwalker. Not likely to win you the game, but very very funny.
Blight Bombardment: Your unit of 20 Plague Marines gets charged? How about every one of them lobbing a Blight Grenade in Overwatch? Did you keep your Biologus Purifier close by? I knew you would.
Veterans of the Long War: Add +1 to the wound rolls of one infantry unit. The damage that could do in the hands of Terminators (of either flavour) will give any Lord of Nurgle happy thoughts.

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I mentioned relics earlier, and yes, they are pretty top drawer as far as Nurgle is concerned.

Suppurating Plate: I predict that you will see this on a Daemon Prince in more than half of the Death Guard armies you fight. It gives him a 2+ save, and bounces close combat hits that the armour catches – add that to some of the sexier warlord traits (Tainted Regeneration, perhaps), and the Daemon Prince will just keep on going… and going…
Pandemic Staff: Adds +1 to psychic tests made for Smite. Sounds a bit poor, but the amount of times I have failed that roll (plus gives you a better chance of turbo-blasting the power).
Fugaris’ Helm: Increases auras by 3″. Doesn’t sound so much but in some cases you will be doubling their range…

For psykers, the Contagion discipline gets new powers and… you know what… I am a little less excited by these – but I also know why.

Miasma of Pestilence is just so good. Not too good, but so good. It sort of over shadows all the others.

That said, you get Blades of Putrefaction which adds +1 to wound rolls of any Death Guard unit, with the possibility of kicking out mortals too. With a charge value of 5, this will get attention.

Putrescent Vitality has potential too, as it boosts the Strength and Toughness of an infantry unit by 1 – however, this could be quite situational, given that the Death Guard tend to be tough and strong to begin with. There will not be too many times, for example, where it is beneficial for Plague Marines to be T6. However, if they are S5, they are suddenly whacking normal Marines on a 3+. You’ll need to match up power and unit against a specific enemy.

Curse of the Leper rolls 7 dice and every one that beats the Toughness of the nearest enemy unit causes a mortal. Not desperately exciting, but a good roll could cause a typical character all sorts of problems.

The biggest issue with these powers is that the first you will pick is Miasma, cutting down on the other choices. Put another way, it is a brave Death Guard lord who goes into battle without tooling up on Miasma…

 

Summary

All in all, this Codex is, I think, a Win for Nurgle and the Death Guard. It is very characterful and while it may not have any obvious ‘Death Stars’, the sheer resilience of the army makes it very forgiving, and there are endless ways to confound your enemy as you gradually wear him down.

On the flip side there are a lot of rules to remember for each unit (what kicks out a mortal wound, and under what circumstances, for example), and you will forget a bunch of them when you first start playing. However, as I said, the Death Guard are a forgiving force, so you won’t be losing battles just because you forgot rules X, Y, and Z.

Overall, I would grade this Codex as making the Death Guard born again hard, and I can’t wait to get them onto the battlefield again!