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Goatboy’s Warhammer 40k: Codex Death Guard is Sick!

9 Minute Read
Jan 25 2021
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Goatboy here with my thoughts on the new Death Guard book. It’s good – REAL good.

If you haven’t figured it out I am pretty excited about the book as it does a lot of cool things for one of my favorite armies.  The book does upgrade most of the units, fine-tunes a lot of rules, and just creates a more unique army experience when compared to the old book.  All of these things make it a winner and something to show you how the new design style will fix armies that are just not the “good” guy Space Marines.  In fact – it has me also excited for the upcoming Dark Eldar book as I expect it to have the same overall rework to make it a unique book too.

Sickly New Basic Rules

Let’s start at the top as the book gives the Death Guard a ton of new basic rules.  I like how this army doesn’t have you picking a new set of rules each turn and instead just increases the effectiveness as the plague infects more of the battlefield.  This is extremely easy and a great way to ensure you have an always working rule that you don’t have to check up on a card or in your book for each turn.  I like options but when it gets too clunky it gets hard to create meaningful rules interactions and abilities when you are constantly trying to remember them.  On top of this they also just got an overall boost to most of the units – extra wounds, attacks, and damage capabilities.  Even the little “combat” resolution rule is good too as it just allows you to have more models stick around.  Heck – the whole ignoring all movement modifiers on the Infantry is also a boon as you can easily just move all of the tabletop and act the same each and every turn.  The whole Contagion thing looks neat too as it just always works and each turn you just increase the distance coming off of the models.  All of the Death Guard stuff get it and if your army is fully Death Guard (plus Unaligned) you can start to make everyone feel sick.  I love this for my Rhinos.

Infectious Secondaries

The Secondaries don’t have nearly the go-to nature of the Marines but there is one that might be doable.  The Shadow Operations – Spread the Sickness – seems well suited for the army as you can just corrupt an objective and move away from it.  This scores at the end of the game – 3 points per objective corrupted – so it could be worth it with enough objectives on the board.  This is one of the only “actions” Poxwalkers can do and with some of the abilities to bring these guys back as well as just being good “warm bodies” for the army it could be worth it to run.  It also has no way for the opponent to stop it once you initially containment it.  The best thing is the action is done at the end of the Movement phase so get up there, get to making it gross, and I guess profit?  The other two seem more of the “winning” more options so yes if you are winning the game and have a lot of Death Guard left – they could be ok but I don’t expect that to happen with that way 40k is playing right now.

One is the loneliest number.

HQ Limitations

There is a lot of build restrictions in the army – with a Daemon Prince or Lord of the Death Guard allowed per detachment and needing more Bubonic Astartes Core Infantry over Poxwalkers/Cultists.  I am ok with this as while the detachment limits and removing CP per detachment keeps most armies in the realm of 1-2 detachments this other set of rules will help make the tables look like Death Guard armies.  The weird thing right now is that the Combat Patrol box doesn’t make a valid army due to having 30 pox walkers and 1 unit of Plague Marines.  On top of all of this you also get 7 Plague Companies to choose from.  They all seem ok with a cool Warlord Trait that Morty steals if on the tabletop, a Stratagem, and a Relic.  Mortarion’s Anvil seems interesting as you got a Strat to give units Heroic Intervention, a no overwatch power, a can’t reroll the hit or wound Warlord trait, and a decent relic to allow the character to reroll all hits and wounds.  All of these things seem good so I like that one – but most of the other Plague Companies seem decent.  There are a lot of increase damage potential auras which area always good as they are active and get better as the game goes on.

I love the new strats!

Stratagems & Pathogens

Death Guard get a ton of Stratagems with a ton of damage bonus options.  I like this as you can just create an army of Bolters that can do a lot of damage if needed.  Sadly the Grenade Trick went away – but that is something we suspected.  No matter how many times you grenade a Custodes unit to death – it ends up throwing out a bit too much Mortal wound damage.  Cloud of flies took a pretty big nerf going to 2CP and up to 4CP for big units.  The army also lost Daemonforge which is a shame and most likely changing/going away whenever we get Chaos.  They did fix something for Helbrutes which is good – as they no longer really get crazy and just get better if more damaged.  I like the Fire Fever option that lets you give a Helbrutes a +1 to hit and wound for 1CP.  With that robot being Core you start to get a ton of 2+ to hit options all over the table with some other abilities.  The fixed “Veterans” of the long war is neat as it is a new name – but basically the same but costs 2CP and only effects Bubonic Astartes.  I expect this to show up for Chaos Space Marines to help clean up the desire to take more Armored jerks versus cultists.  My new Favorite Stratagem is called Dark Cravings which gives a Foetid Bloat Drone the ability to Heroically intervene 6 inches.  Seems pretty fun with the Pizza Dough Roller drones coming to a tabletop near you.


We get a new “upgrade” set of rules for some units called Deathly Pathogens.  I think they are ok as they are point cost increases and give ways to get some more damage to Characters.  It even gets to be given on anything with the Champion keyword so you have some neat options for your Plague Marines if you want to spend the points.  I am not sure how good they will be but most are cheap enough you could have points left over to power up some options.  The previewed  Vicious Death seems good as you get to reroll some of your flamer hits but the Virulent Fever options with a mortal wound on a wound roll of a 6 also seem ok.

Warlords, Relics & Psychics

The Warlord Traits are next and they all seem decent.  You have all the traits from the Plague Companies, a Stratagem to give your character one, and your Primarch that steals a ton of em.  We get a FNP one, the new Remove enemy aura one, an extra wound with ignoring wound rolls of 1-3, A tweaked Arch Contaminator, another toughness increase/ignore AP 1/2, and a Mortal wound generator aura.  Overall they all seem like they fit into the new design style for Death Guard and with Morty taking 3 basic ones plus a Plague Company one it’s harder to see which might show up more often.  I like anything that gives Auras as this army can set up overlapping powerful synergies instead of just making a badass Daemon Prince.

The Relic front has me losing my Pistol I barely got to mess with.  It is probably for the best as we have a Stratagem that does something similar.  From there we have some Weapons, the 2+ armor plate, and a bunch of “upgrades” for the regular Elite Characters.  This is where we start to see some interesting things as we get an upgrade for the Foul Blightspawn to affect all enemy units within 6″, the Tallyman letting hits of a 6 cause an extra hit, and even an ability to turn off leaving combat for a turn.  There is a bolter hell army that will show up using the Tallyman and other fun options to have 2+ hitting bolters that reroll their wounds and cause tons of extra damage.  Yay Plague Marines!

The Psychic discipline is along the same lines as we had before.  We get the plus 1 strength and toughness power.  We can cause the opponent to have a -1 to their strength and if we roll high enough a -1 attack.  There is even one that increasing your Contagion range by 6″ which seems pretty good.  The Curse of the Leper could be really good on weaker units where you could have a chance to do 7 mortal wounds by beating their Toughness on 7 rolls.   That seems alright too.  Overall it’s decent and again depending on what is in your army it could be interesting.  If Morty is there he will be throwing out Miasma on himself, Curse of the Leper at an enemy, and maybe Gift of Plagues to increase his Contagion range.


The Units – NICE!

Finally we get to the data sheets and will just go over some of the things I like.  First of all – the core units of Plague Marines, both types of Terminators, the Helbrutes, and the Possessed.  This is important as a ton of the Auras only hit the Core options.  Speaking of Core options – all of the Terminator-like lords are now all “Captains”.  This is pretty good as each of the Lords have some different options that could be useful – like having a Weapon that can be swapped for an interesting relic, increasing their Contagion range, or having a fancy new Aura.  The new Character – Lord of Virulence – seems pretty good in that mentioned “bullet” hell list.  Having an aura that gives Plague Weapons another point of AP on an unmodified wound roll of 6 can be interesting – especially with the Stratagem that turns all your Bolter rounds into Plague Weapons.  You start to chunk that with Arch Contaminator nearby and within range, and you get some mean re-roll setups moving along.  There are a lot of ways to get things to hit on a 2+ in this army which makes me feel like having a lot of Core is the way to go.  Both sets of Terminators look to be spicy with the Deathshrouds losing “guarding” Morty but gain more attacks and damage potential.  My top 5 talked about all the Elites but being able to have one Elite choice take 3 different options is a great thing for the army.  I can see a lot of armies being one Battalion followed by Morty in the Supreme command slot so having this option makes life easier for the Death Guard player.  What is interesting is there is a story in the book about how Morty found a ton of Predators at a forgeworld – thus now Death Guard get Predators.  The Terrain is interesting and depending on how much you want to spread that contagion goodness it could be good.  It isn’t too expensive and again as you build your lists and you have points left over it might be worth it.

That ends the quick and dirty review of the book.  On the FW side of things, the Greater Bloat Drone could be interesting as well as some of the Chaos options.  I have talked about my love of the Decimator so that could be worth it to fit into the army as another “targeted” mortal wound option.  It’s harder to judge now as things will get more wounds – thus throwing out 2-3 mortal wounds isn’t 2-3 dead options so they might not be needed as much.  Right now I am just happy to have a new Chaos book that feels awesome and gives me hope on when I get to see my regular Chaos Space Marines on the tabletop.

What a great book! Praise Grandfather!


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