40K: Who’s Tougher – Rubric VS Plague Marines

When it comes to battles of attrition the devout of Nurgle and the followers of Tzeentch are surprisingly durable – but who’s tougher?

With the impending release of the new Thousands Sons Codex, we’ve been streaming them in action all this week. Yesterday we had an epic throw down of Nurgle vs Tzeentch on the tabletop. But that got us thinking about the footsloggers in both forces and about they are both surprisingly tough. Let’s take a look at the challengers:

Plague Marines

Plague Marines are considered one of the toughest footsloggers in the game. Now, a lot of that has to do with their longstanding reputation as being “Nurgle Tough” and in 8th, they are still fairly durable. Clocking in with a T5 and 3+ save, they don’t sound *that* tough – but when you add in their Disgusting Resilience save that’s when things start to get better.

Data Sheet from Codex:Death Guard


Rubric Marines

Rubric Marines on the other hand don’t really have the same reputation as being durable. Sure, they’ve had a 5+ invulnerable in previous editions but that wasn’t what they were really known for. However, in 8th edition when you take a closer look at them, it starts to become apparent. They are T4 with a 3+/5++ save. On paper they look like standard CSM with some fancy bolters and a 5++, but their All Is Dust ability really helps out in the durability department. That extra boost to their armor save vs 1 damage attacks can add up quick.

Data Sheet from Codex: Chaos Space Marine (the only difference is they are troops in the 1k sons book)

Now, obviously, they each are going to perform differently depending on what buffs/debuffs are applied. Plus, it matters for how much damage each shot does. But all things equal we find them to be quite close. All is Dust really helps when you’re getting shot by small arms fire and even helps more when you’re also in cover. Plasma gun shots go from a -3 AP to a -1. We’ll take a 4+ save over a 6+/5+. Again, it all depends on what’s shooting at them and what sort of buffs each unit has.

What About Lethality?

Now, in our game when they were shooting at each other it really all came down to positioning. If the Plague Marines can stay at 12″-18″ (thanks to their “Legion Trait” Inexorable Advance) it really does tip in their favor. If the Thousands can close the gap, then their -2 AP rapid fire bolters really start to add-up. And if they are rocking Warpflamers…ouch.

Now, we can go back and forth all day about different situations – but we wanted to get your opinion: Who do you think is tougher? If you had to chose a side, would you go with the Rubric Marines or the Plague Marines?



It’s the battle of the Footsloggers – Rubrics vs Plague Marines! Who’s side are you on?


  • How about doing some statistic evaluation and THEN posting a “VS”-article?

    • ZeeLobby

      Psh, thinking, so overrated.

    • AmorousBadger

      Let’s not actually do some work here, let’s just rush out some half thought-through bollocks instead. It’s the BOLS way.

    • euansmith

      Under the current administration, evidence based research is to be replaced with faith based gut feeling.

      • NNextremNN

        How Imperial XD

  • Ahzek451

    Not to mention that the 5++ can be ignored via mortal wounds. All is dust can also be easily ignored. Rubrics are not cheap, so it wont be hard for an opponent to send a few weapons with more than damage 1 their way. The nurgle feel no pain, however cannot be ignored.

    • Daniel Hall

      But isn’t there a reverse of this? If you fire a las-cannon at a Plauge marine and roll any number above 1 for the wound that plauge marine may as well not even have Disgusting.

      We just have a straight 33% chance to ignore due to the 5++ save.

      food for thought I suppose. I think Plauges do have an edge, but if rubrics were brought down just slightly in price they’d be perfect.

      • Orblivion

        No, if they roll a 4 on the lascannon damage then you’d take 4 Disgustingly Resilient rolls.

        EDIT: NM, I see what you’re saying now. And yeah, you have a point.

      • Ahzek451

        Perhaps, but in practice lascannons are not typically going after plague marines, or rubrics. There are plenty of other weapons that are effective against both. The point i was making is rubric bonuses are easier to ignore. Especially in the mortal wound dept.

      • Steven Hyche

        I’ve saved a 6 damage las cannon once., but yeah even auto cannons and other 2 damage things rip through plague marines. The extra toughness is what makes them hard to kill.

  • Bri B

    Doesn’t really matter since folks will take Tzaangors, Cultists and Poxwalkers instead.

    • A.P.

      Blight Bombardment is not to be trifled with..

  • CG

    I did some quick calculations:

    In all cases, this is after the hit roll has succeeded (because nothing about their profiles adjusts Hit value by default) and just includes the Wound and Save rolls. The number is the chance a marines will die per hit of that weapon

    Bolters (Str:4, AP:-, Dmg: 1)
    TS: 8.3%
    DG: 7.4%

    Plasma (Str 7, AP:-3 , Dmg: 1)
    TS: 33%
    DG: 37%

    Lascannon (Str:9. AP:-3, Dmg: D6)
    TS: 55%
    DG: 1:37%, 2:49%, 3:53%, 4:54%, 5:55%, 6:55% – multiple values because of the random nature of the damage. Disgustingly resilient must pass all the wounds inflicted and that get exponentially harder the more wounds inflicted.

    So far, they’re about the same.

    Is there some other weapon that you would like tested?

    • CG

      Lasgun (Str:3, AP:-, Dmg:1)
      TS: 5.5%
      DG: 7.4%

      • euansmith

        60% of the time, it works all the time.

    • Jeremy Larson

      Up that plasma to an over-powered shot, and I bet the percentages reverse.

      • CG

        Plasma Gun – Supercharge (Str:8, AP:-3, Dmg:2)
        TS: 55%
        DG: 49%

        The fact that a plasma gun does 2 damage and the DG model has to make 2/2 Disgustingly Resilient rolls in a row means that they’ll fail the DR roll 89% of the time. Before taking into account DR, the chances of dying are the same for both.

        The change is from 4% in the TS favour to 6% in the DG favour; a 10% swing.

    • YetAnotherFacelessMan

      Thank you, CG. After scrolling to the bottom of the “article” without being presented anything other than the unit entry, it’s nice to see some analysis.

      • euansmith

        It would be great to think that GW have a formula they can apply to assigning points cost to minis. In truth, they seem to eyeball it.

    • Davis Centis

      The Death Guard are cheaper, which means that if they are even in terms of straight up durability, then the Death Guard are more durable on a per-point basis!

      • CG

        A Plague Marine with Bolter is 21 points. A Rubric marine with Inferno Bolter is 20 points.

    • Andrew O’Brien

      Very nice math. This is kind of what I was expecting. The improved armor save of NM is nice, but it would only really overcome the toughness of PM on heavy flamers and plasma when they are both wounded on 3s.

      • CG

        Heavy flamer (Str:5, AP:-1, Dmg:1)

        TS: 22%
        DG: 16%

        Heavy Flamers are wounding DG on 4’s, but I understand your point. Once the weapon is Str:6, then All is Dust is more helpful than the additional Toughness. On the other hand, once you get up to Str:6+, you start getting multiple Damage and All is Dust stops working.

  • A.P.

    the durability in the nurgle list comes from the supporting units, specifically the Myphetic Blight Hauler giving them cover coupled with Psy to get them to T6 goes really far to making them better overall. If you want to measure toe to toe, Rubrics will win out most of the time.

  • GrimBarker

    I hate this website. I’m just addicted to seeing if there is a limit to how stupid these articles can get. So far, looks like a bottomless pit.

  • Bigdadi99

    Why do you guys even come to this site if all you’re gonna do is bash the “F” out of the writers? Is this a tradition or something?

  • MechBattler

    Death Guard are still tougher. They’ll always get that 5+ FNP regardless of what happens to their regular save. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but anyone who’s played Plague Marines (I have.) can tell you it’s invaluable. That extra save can mean the difference between a unit getting wiped and having just one or two guys left holding an objective and capping it for another turn. And when most games are about scoring points these days, that’s priceless. Plagueys are god-like when you turtle them to hold down objectives.