BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

Warhammer 40K: Five Big Changes In Codex: Death Guard

5 Minute Read
Jan 19 2021
Hot story icon

Here are some of the biggest updates and changes you need to look out for in Codex: Death Guard.

If you haven’t heard, this week the pestilent prophets of plague procured a perfected book. This updated version of Codex: Death Guard, updates the faithfully foul followers of Father Nurgle, bringing them fully into 9th Edition. In this book you will not only find all the regular Match Play rules, but also some great Crusade (but not THE great crusade) rules. Overall this is a really solid book that sees almost every datasheet, rule and a ton of weapons get major overhauls. Today let’s take a look at five big changes your should watch out for when playing with or against Codex: Death Guard.

No Hateful Assault

Death Guard as a faction hasn’t had Hateful Assault (the CSM version of Shock Assault, giving them +1 attack in effectively the first round of any combat) for long. They got it Psychic Awaking, which was relatively recent. Still prior to this codex, all Marines, both traitor and loyalist had this rule, making it the default. That’s no longer true as Death Guard have had the rule removed from their Codex. Now this shouldn’t be seen as some kind of big nerf, most Death Guard units simply got an extra attack (at least) and having +1 attack all the time is better than having it only some of the time. Still its going to be important to remember that they won’t be getting an extra attack in the first round on top of the boosted stats. If you’ve been playing a lot of Marines it can be easy to slip into that mindset, so just be careful (also gone is Death To the False Emperor).

No Daemons In Codex: Death Guard

A lot of Death Guard players I know have been used to using some Daemons in their lists. These guys allowed for some cheap durable troops, and have some interesting combos and rules interactions (especially with daemon engines). Now this mixed builds got less popular with PA, but this book really phases them out. Simply put you now lose a lot is you try to add Daemons to your Death Guard list. On top of that, the few that used to be in the Codex have been removed, with the exception of the Daemon Prince. Lastly summoning is just straight up gone from the book. Maybe we will see it come back in a future CSM or Daemon book, but for now its not an option. These are things you will want to watch out for, as they can affect how you build an army.


Mortarion, the malefic master of mercilessly mincing mortals is making a comeback. Morty, as we in the biz call him, made a big splash years ago with his initial release, but kind of faded out of the meta as the weakness of large targetable units dragged him down. The new updated Morty is however, a pretty scary beast. For one he gets a mind-boggling 4 warlord traits, which combine to let him keep his old 5+++ save, and gain the benefits for Disgustingly Resilient making him pretty dang hard to bring down. He gives out a a crazy ton of both buffs and debuffs and is just a monster in combat. This is a guy I won’t be surprised to see a lot of pretty soon. However if you plan on running him, watch out, he’s now the game’s second Supreme Commander, so make sure you are using the right detachments.

These Rhinos Are Sick!


One of the new powerful rules in Codex: Death Guard is the Contagions of Nurgle. This rule lets you spread a power debuff onto enemy units and can be used in scoring secondaries. While this is a great rule, its also got a fairly short range and a lot of Death Guard units are pretty slow. One answer to this Rhinos, their deadly drivers are determined to deliver disease and death despite the odds. Not only can Rhinos help get your slow troops across the table, helping them score, but they are themselves disease vectors, spreading contagion. These are a cheap and easy way to get your debuff across the table fast.


Death Guard Terminators were already pretty solids units (both of them) but man have they gotten a boost. Both sets of Terminators have gained an inch of movement, a wound, and an attack. Making them faster, harder to kill, and more deadly. What more could you want? While some weapons got reworked, they really don’t see any nerfs, though Deathshroud can no longer bodyguard for Morty. The updated version of Disgustingly Resilient is also a big boon for these guys as it seriously nerfs the big heavy weapons that might be used to bring them down. For instance, power fists and Thunderhammers, both of which could one-shot old Blightlords, will really struggle versus them now. Throw in the rest of the army’s new rules and competitive point costs and you’ve got a pair of really amazing units, maybe even OP, to watch out for.


Let us know what Death Guard things you’re on the lookout for, down in the comments! 

Author: Abe Apfel
  • Tabletop Gallery: The Grimdark Hurts So Good