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Goatboy’s Warhammer 40K: Death Guard Top Five Improved Units

6 Minute Read
Jan 18 2021

Goatboy here with the top five Death guard gross monsters that will most likely see the tabletops in the near future.

I’ve got some Death Guard content to whet everyone’s appetite.  I think the book looks pretty dang good so far with a lot of options to do damage, stay alive, and just win the game.  Today I want to talk about the top 5 units that I think were improved by the new book.  There isn’t any real order here just the 5 gross monsters that will most likely see the tabletops in the near future.  With that – let’s dive right into the cesspool that is the Death Guard.


Mortarion – This guy got a serious upgrade in the new codex.  His initial design had him be a super offensive threat – which he still is – but now they have remade him into the center cog of the Death Guard machine.  When we initially saw his datasheet as well as the changes to disgustingly resilient we thought he had lost some of his protection bonus.  Thankfully those extra rules were hidden behind the curtain of getting 3 Warlord traits.  On top of that, he even gets to pick another one at the beginning of the game from the list of Plague companies.  This is pretty dang nutty as this guy comes rocking in with a ton of extra rules, a tougher body, and the ability to make his fellow Death Guard better as an “acting” Chapter master.  Sure he lost the extra attack on the charge and really hating the False Emperor – he makes up for it with just being a better overall buy.  I don’t think will see him in every Death Guard army – but he is someone you should always look at when building your gross Marine list.

Bloat Drone (Fleshmower)

The pizza dough making Foetid Bloat Drone.  I thought this model looked awesome when he first came out – just that his rules didn’t work.  Why would you have this 50% hitting, forward running, and weird Daemon Engine get a pretty decent close combat attack?  It is the same reason why I can’t wait for the Maulerfiend to get this WS software upgrade – having a close combat machine hit pretty poorly is a bad design.  Thankfully GW fixed that by letting this guy hit on 3’s, removed his degrading stat line, and gave the Death Guard a fast-moving threat.  Mix this in with a neat little Stratagem to allow this guy to Heroically intervene and you got something that might show up as a “scouting” unit for all those gross Plague Marines.

Plague Marines

Plague Marines  – these guys got a lot better.  Yes, they lost FNP, Hateful Assault, and the Grenade trick – but they only went up by 3 points, got an extra wound, and an extra attack.  On top of this, they always cause a -1 Toughness to anyone they are fighting in close combat and you start to see how these guys can actually do work.  There is a plethora of Stratagems and abilities to cause those pesky basic bolters turning into the Space Marine equivalent machine guns of death – with auto wounds on 6’s, -4 ap on 6’s, and just a lot of basic firepower.  A lot of the time the Death Guard suffered to remove heavy armor options and with the upgrades in this book the basic bolter is now a threat.  Let alone all the plague knives you can throw around as needed.



Blightlord  Terminators – These guys seem poised to be a serious threat in the coming year.  The extra wound with the stock 4+ invulnerable save makes them very hard to move.  They also are easily upgraded with all the bolter tricks as well as having a lot of attacks.  This army wants to control the center and these guys can do it.  You don’t want to get too close to them as they can get in, get to chopping, and just ruin someone’s day.  They did lose the sheer amount of combi Weapons you could take before – but I end up thinking just the straight bolter might work out just as well.  Why put in too many points into the unit when you can leave them cheap, effective, and butt whoopin’.

Hi!, I’m a thing now (cough, cough)

Elite Characters

All the Elite Characters – every single one of them got a change and an upgrade as far as I am concerned.  With the board getting closer the bell daddy letting your guys move 6″ and advance an extra inch can be very useful – especially with Poxwalkers as you secondary corruption caddies.  The Plague Surgeon is the way you can activate a 6+ FNP for all your Death Guard Infantry which might be really important if you want to run a ton of Plague Marines and Bubonic Astartes infantry.  The Tallyman has shifted too with just a flat every turn roll a 2d6 on a 7 get a Command Dice – but he now gives a unit each turn a +1 to hit till the next command phase.  This means you can have a decent set of Core hitting on a reroll 2’s with some of the “Captain” like characters.  The Foul Blightspawn will probably show up too as he has some fun upgrades as well as the always powerful – this unit has to fight last ability.  Seems pretty good when we get closer to more games and fast assault stuff becomes a legit thing.  Finally  the Grenade dude did lose his “grenade” trick but he can infuse a friendly infantry to upgrade their close combat weapons to cause mortal wounds on 6’s. Oh and the best thing is that you can take 3 different Elite Characters as one “elite” choice.  Not too bad.


Bonus – The Rhino.  This got better because it got one extra rule to make it well – extra saucy.  These things now get the Contagion ability which means they can easily get near someone and let their stink give an enemy unit a -1 to their Toughness.  A legit thing to think about as these things are fast, get ignored a lot, and could easily slip in to cause some problems.  I think if we see a lot of Plague Marines showing up these will show up too.

The Verdict

Overall the book upgrades the majority of the options – between adding in more rules, streamlining some of their abilities, or just remove the random nature of damage – you end up having a better and more consistent book.  Also, this consistency didn’t lose any of the flavor of the book as it feels distinctly Death Guard in nature.  The army looks like it should plague like the stories in the books talk about – remorseless, unrelenting, and full-on stank-o-licous.  I know I am excited to try them out soon as I have so many dang Plague Marines that are itching to get to the tabletop.


Praise Grandfather Nurgle!

  • Warhammer 40K: Death Guard Deadly Pathogens Rules