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40K Deep Thought: Why is Nurgle the Most Popular Chaos God?

3 Minute Read
Oct 20 2014

The Four Ruinous Powers are not equals – Nurgle has been a fan favorite for years – but why?

We’ve heard it from retailers, fans and in anecdotes for years – Nurgle is the most popular chaos daemons range with the community.  I think the emphasis on Nurgle in End Times II can be taken as a bit of an acknowledgment…

But the original question stands – WHY?

We have Khorne, Nurgle, Tzeentch, and Slaanesh with highly divergent high concepts and ranges of minis.  Yet Nurgle always seems to find a little rotten part of gamers’s hearts.

Here’s my take on what’s going on.

Nurgle is at the sweet spot of having a very unique and distinctive visual style – combined with a very easy to comprehend concept.

The physical corruption and zombie-like qualities are somewhat in vogue at the moment in pop culture.  Some might even say that zombies/undead have kind of jumped the shark at this point.  But still, Nurgle has an easy to grasp visual aesthetic.

I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but there is also that weird little kid inside each of us that appreciated the “eww-gross” factor that you can only find in Nurgle in the GW range.

Topps has making millions off of “EEWWW GROSS” since the 1980s! 

Now I think it’s not only Nurgle, but the other three powers as well…

Khorne is well let’s say it – a boring concept.  He’s a bloody god of war and loves skulls.  Nope, never seen that before…


Tzeentch to me has always been the most cerebral of the 4 powers in concept.  It’s easy to get behind the god of decay, or even war.  But the god of endless change that does not even know what it is trying to achieve and cannot ever really “achieve” anything as it is constantly changing…  That’s a tough “brand” to boil down for the teens. On the design side, all those lurid colors and the feathered bird aspects may be a hard climb for many newer hobbyists.

Slaanesh has always had a tough go of it.  In the early days, GW pushed the adult erotic aspects of the god more overtly, then pulled waaaaaay back as the editions went on to make the Dark Prince more kid friendly. These days it’s corsets for all, and cover up the nipples everybody!  On the rules front,  Slaanesh also had a rough go, getting bounced between being fast, or deadly, or nerfing opponents, or somewhere in that intersection of abilities.  In short, the Dark Prince has always been a fluff and rules striptease of hinting at what the god should really be about, but never could be due to the reality of having to make a mass-market game that targets minors…

Behold the Slaanesh “Rod of Command” from Realms of Chaos (1988)

And with each of his three brother hobbled to greater or lessor degrees, Nurgle sloshes across the finish line ahead of the pack.

Or that’s what I think is going on.

What about you? 

Author: Larry Vela
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