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Goatboy’s 40K: Death Guard 1st Impressions

9 Minute Read
Sep 11 2017
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Goatboy here again and I got to check out the newest Codex to hit the 40k Scene – the Death Guard.

It is an interesting book and something I find pretty exciting.  I am not 100% sure on lists yet as I focused my initial look on rules and interactions – leaving the point limits, build types, etc out until I get a bit more time with the book.  It feels like a completely different style of army then we are used to with the Chaos Space Marine book which is a testament to the GW team working to make this a unique army.  It is full of the thoughts and ideas that the rules writers want to push in the new edition and it feels like the first “true” 8th codex.  With that let’s go over a few things that interest me from the new book.

The Minis

First of all – the miniatures look pretty dang awesome.  They have this crazy look to them with tons of detail, lots of “animation” in their poses, and really showcase a whole other side to their miniature design process.  These guys do not look fragile, they look mean and brutal.  The white armor paint scheme in the book is very good and I prefer it over the green mixed with some crazy colors.  This release is going to be a huge one with a ton of new models ready to burn a hole through your wallet, your pocket, and probably your savings.  But hey I am sure your like – GW makes good models so these would be good – tell me about the dang rules.

The Rules

Rules wise this army plays very differently then the normal Marine style build.  It is all about the slow grind as it has a plethora of rules to ensure you guys are plodding up the field, poisoning the battlefield, and hopefully “winning” in the end.  Everything rots and this is the army to showcase this.  Disgustingly resilient is not the Death Guard Legion rule – but it shows up on most truly Nurglified options in the book.  The main rule the Legion gets is the ability to advance and fire normally with assault weapons and move and fire with Heavy weapons and not take any type of penalty.  On top of that their rapid fire weapons shot twice at 18″ not the normal half range.  This means this army is always going to be moving slowly but always moving.  On top of this a lot of their flamer style weapons have a 9″ range instead of the common 8″ range you see on most other types.  There are a lot of Plague Weapons which allow you to reroll 1’s to wound.  The idea of the slow creeping sickness overtaking your body is very evident in this army.  Nurgle is planting a garden and he has time to wait for the blooming and the death.


New Elite Units

Unit wise they have a ton of new “elite” characters to help keep their army moving forward.  A bunch of different auras float off these guys and give all kinds of interesting benefits to their “death guard” friends.  Mix some of these rules with their Stratagems and you get some nutty combos to help “mortal wound” out a very specific enemy.

The Biologus Putrifier is one of the Grenade caddies we have seen some pictures of.  His ability grants a +1 to the Strength and Damage characteristic of the Blight Grenades.  He also lets Grenades do a Mortal wound on a 6+.  With a Stratagem you can have the entire unit throw Blight Grenades as well and when you mix it with Veterans of the Long War they all of a sudden each get 1d6 hits that have a chance to do mortal wounds on a 5 or 6.  Sure it is 6 Inches but that is something to really worry about when you try to charge in and face a plethora of Grenades coming at your face.

The other interesting unit from the Elite section is the Foul Blightspawn.  He has a pretty powerful flamer weapon (Plague Weapon, 1d6 Hits, Str 2d6 -3AP and 3 Damage) and has an awesome extra aura ability of causing all units within 7″ to have the ability to force opponents to attack as if they are not charging – i.e. in the opponent picks a unit to attack in close combat and then you get to pick a unit.  This even turns off other units abilities to “attack” first.  This is pretty powerful and I think he will be a consistent in most armies.

The Tallyman doesn’t have the Tally like ability that Epidemius has – but he does do something interesting in that any command point you spend you get to roll a 2d6 and on a 7 you get that command point back.  There are a ton of interesting Stratagems in this book and it might be worthwhile to have him in any “massed” command point army.  Say maybe if they have some allies or friends that show to be a bit command point hungry?

The Plague Surgeon is a short ranged Aura and allows you to Reroll 1’s on your Disgustingly resilient rolls.  He might be worth while in the massed Pox Walkers/Daemon Prince armies we could see in the upcoming season of the plague.



I personally like the new Terminator options.  There are 2 sets of Terminators – all in Cataphracii armor.  Blightlord Terminators are like the normal Terminators but with a Plague set up.  They get some cool Plague weapon rules (Plague Flail we have seen and the huge Axe etc) plus the normal set up of combi-weapons and other options.  I see these guys as your drop in, bother the opponent, and hopefully be a pain the rear so the rest of your army can move up.  With the ability to shoot Rapid Fire weapons at 18″ at their normal half strength they could easily pepper the opponent with Plasma or just massed Combi-bolter firepower.  Plus they should be really hard to remove with 2+/4++ and then a 5+ DR roll.  The Deathshroud Terminators are extremely expensive but fulfill an interesting roll if you want to play with Mortarion.  They have a lot of attacks, hit pretty hard, and when near a character they can on a 2+ take the hit that would come towards the character.  This lets Mortarion get some extra wounds as the Death Shroud Can Deep strike near him, give him some protection, and be a pain in the butt on the return counter assault.  Both sets of models look pretty awesome and I can’t wait to see all the bits and extras they have in their kits.  I would expect the Terminators to be a 5 man set and the Deathshroud fit the 3 man set like we saw with the Exalted Sorcerers from the Thousand Sons release.

New Vehicles

The extra vehicles I am not too excited about as they don’t seem to shoot very well.  There is a new Bloat-Drone “daemon engine” that looks pretty goofy but neat and of course you have all seen the upgraded Drone options with new guns.  I still think the two Flamers are the best as they really excel at being bother units for the slower Death Guard.  I think if you mix them with the Death Guard Stratagem that forces a vehicle to Auto Explode gives you some flying Bombs.  Utilize the Tally man and you could have some interesting “Suicide” units that fly over, get close to some characters and try to die for the Greater good that is the Death Guard army.  I think the Plagueburst Crawler tank is just a weird fit as it has some good guns but it just doesn’t hit that well.  The weird new Myphitic Blight Hauler Daemon Engine is kind of in the same boat but it does have an extra awesome ability it grants to those within its Aura.  Everyone counts as being in cover so it seems it would be very powerful with a horde of say Pox Walkers or some Plague Marines.  Once I get a better look at the point cost I could decide if they are worth it.  I get the feeling the army is going to be very strapped for points.


The Stratagems are pretty interesting with a bunch copied from the Chaos Space Marines but with a Nurgle twist.  The one I like the most is the the ability to make a Death Guard Vehicle blow up instead of rolling.  This lets me think about some funny options like using a Helforged Contemptor to get in close, blow up and maybe kill a ton of Malefic lords.  We already can see how Cloud of Flies could be very strong with say some Terminators forcing your opponent to move to shoot them.  The 3 CP Nurgles Rot could be extremely powerful if activated off of Mortarion and then you get some of the Command Points back with the Tallyman.  Overall the Stratagems look good, not to overpowered, and really make the army work differently from their other “misunderstood” bad guys friends.

Warlord Traits

The Warlord traits are all very Death Guard like – with some Aura abilities as well as some powerful character upgrades.  There is a pretty good chance to have a 2+ save Daemon Prince who has a 4+ DR roll if you wanted to.  That is a Relic/Warlord Trait combo.  There are also some more Mortal Wound Aura generators which could be mixed with Mortarion to generate multiple rolls to cause Nova like damage.  As most events has you choose your Warlord trait per game you could really tailor your Warlord to survive a ton of damage as needed and mixing it with the Relics you have a nice Plague like Murder bomb.


There are 3 relics that speak to me as combos for specific armies.  One gives you a 2+ armor save which is something we have already seen on the GW website.  It feels best suited on some kind of Daemon Prince as they can easily be set up with a Normal Chaos Space Marine friend like from the Alpha Legion who can easily dump a Warp Time on him.  The Relic Bell you can give to your Bell Carrier seems pretty good too with a Mortal Wound causing option as well as causing leadership issues by forcing opponents to roll 2 dice and discard the lowest.  They also still cause the -1 to Leadership as well so it is a win win situation.  There is also a lovely helm that pushes your Auras out by 3 more inches – which could be a very powerful thing if say some kind of monster gets moving fast, gets close, and forces a ton of characters to take a bunch of mortal wounds.


Contagion Discipline

Spells wise we get 3 new ones to add to the ones listed in the Index.  Blades of Putrefaction seems decent with a low casting cost and the ability for the unit to get a +1 to wound in the fight phase.  This seems pretty powerful with the Veterans of the Long War Stratagem which will then cause you to Mortal wound on a 5+.  Putrescent Vitality is a great bonus spell that gives a unit a +1 to Strength and Toughness.  We finally get back Curse of the Leper which if it targeted would be a much stronger spell.  Still throwing 7 dice at the nearest enemy unit and for everyone that beast the toughness takes a mortal wound.  It is another way to throw more damage at your opponent as needed – but something I don’t expect to be used much.  I think Miasma, Blades, Vitatlity and Plaguewind to be the heaviest used spells.  Thankfully they need to ally in regular Space Marines to get access to Warptime and other mean options.

Overall I am pretty excited about the army and plan on writing some Armylists for next week! The Death Guard are my next “project” army as I have collected a ton of parts, finished off my initial Renegade List and really look forward to painting something not Red.

~What do you think?.

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