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How To Play Death Guard In Warhammer 40K

6 Minute Read
Mar 27 2024

Today take a look at some basics of how to play and get started with Death Guard in Warhammer 40,000 10th Edition.

The Death Guard is a Chaos faction associated with plague and disease in Warhammer 40K. They have disgusting detail in their sculpts with some real stand outs. They’re a tough army that relies on Disgusting Resilience and esoteric weapons of war. Due to their unique background, they are one of the most unique and distinctive armies in Warhammer 40K.

So below are some tips on how to play Death Guard and get started with the army.

Who Are The Death Guard?

The Death Guard were one of the original noble Space Marine Legions, who fell to Chaos during the Horus Heresy. They are led by the corrupted immortal Daemon-Primarch Mortarion. The Legion took great pride in their resistance to poisons, disease, and mortality in general. Their fascination led them to worship the Chaos God Nurgle. In return, he infests their armour with pestilence, disease, and an unnatural endurance.

Mortarion sends out fleets of Plague Ships into the Warp to carry their contagions throughout the galaxy. At the end of the 41st Millennium, Mortarion senses his Brother Primarch’s rebirth and reasserted direct control over the Death Guard once more. Now the Traitor Legion has launched a major assault on Ultramar in what became known as the Plague Wars.

Why Play Death Guard

Death Guard assault

Do you like gross, disease-infested, armoured supermen? How about tough as nails units? Or infesting enemy units with plague?


If so, then the Death Guard is the army for you. Welcome aboard Brother!

Strengths of the Army

  • Army-wide resilience is provided by Wounds, Saves, and special rules.
  • Plague Weapons and high Attacks make every model a close combat threat.
  • A wide variety of powerful infantry and vehicle units.

Weakness of the Army

  • No wide access to long-ranged firepower.
  • Very slow army besides a few vehicle units.
  • Usually outnumbered due to high per-model point cost.

Typhus, Herald of Nurgle


Death Guard Marines Army Rules

  • Nurgle’s Gift (Aura): This aura, which increases throughout the game, decreases the toughness of enemy units.

Death Guard Detachment Rules- Plague Company

  • Rules: The Spread the Sickness rule allows you to tag objectives and infect them, which gives them the Nurgle’s Gift aura.
  • Enhancements: Most of the Death Guard enhancements are related to Nurgle’s Gift, but Shamblerot is a passive debuff to enemies trying to charge the bearer’s unit.
  • Stratagems: Like the enhancements, many of the Stratagems involve Nurgle’s Gift or Infected Objectives.

Key Death Guard Units To Know

The Death Guard have a sizable unit roster and knowing what units to take can be tricky. Here are some suggestions to get you off on the right track.



The big baddie Primarch of the Death Guard legion- Mortarion packs a punch. He also has a suite of Auras, including the flexible Host of Plagues.



Another Epic Hero of the Death Guard, Typhus is very interesting in his ability to join a big fat blob of Poxwalkers.

Lord of Virulence

Death Guard Lord of Virulence
A powerful army leader. The Lord of Virulence has an effective ranged weapon in the form of his twin Plaguespewer. Master of Destruction means he is great leading any shooting unit but Blight Bombardment means he really shines joined to Blast weapons. This means he’s a great choice of HQ.

Foul Blightspawn

This character is quite a choice piece. The plague sprayer is a very effective weapon. Add in the ability to buff his unit with the power strikes-first ability, and the Blightspawn gives your opponent some problems to solve.

Lord of Contagion

The Lord of Contagion can lead either of your available Terminator units and grants them flat re-rolls to hit in melee- quite powerful.


The Tallyman is a simple man, with simple wants. All he wants to do is lead a unit and give them plus one to hit with his Malicious Calculations.


Plague Marines

Death Guard Plague Marines
The bread and butter of a Death Guard are its Plague Marine units. Plague Marines are tough, and come with a variety of effective plague weapon options. Most Death Guard armies have a solid core of Plague Marines.

Other Units

Pox Walkers

Death Guard Poxwalkers
The humble and numberless Pox Walkers give your army a chance of outnumbering the opponent. Pox Walkers prove that quantity has a quality all its own.


Deathshroud Terminators

Death Guard Deathshroud Terminators
The personal bodyguard of the Primarch Mortarion himself. These Terminator armoured, scythe-wielding, diseased monsters are avatars of destruction. Though just as slow (or slower) than most other army units, they will quickly eliminate almost any threat they reach.

Death Guard Blightlord Terminators

While the Deathshroud serve a very particular role, Blightlords are the more “generic” Deathguard Terminators. They have a variety of strong melee and ranged options.

Foetid Bloat-drone

Suffice to say that fielding a Foetid Bloat-drone gives you the opportunity to field and declare attacks for a weapon called the Fleshmower. Need I say more? Mow that grass!

Plagueburst Crawler

Death Guard Plagueburst Crawler
The prodigious battle tank comes bristling with a variety of ghoulish, ranged weapons. All around great for taking out tough targets. Pay special attention to the very good Entropy Cannon option!

Myphitic Blight-haulers

These cute little Daemon Engines pack solid ranged firepower that is especially good against Vehicles thanks to its Tank Hunters rule.

Miasmic Malignifier

This Fortification provides an aura which makes your units more difficult to hit when nearby. It can be set up in a forward position thanks to infiltrators.

Death Guard Army


Sample Starter Death Guard Army


Lord of Virulence . 1 Model. He is equipped with: twin plague spewer; plague claw


Plague Marine Squad. Five Models. They are armed with boltgun; plague knife

Plague Marine Squad. Ten Models. They are armed with boltgun; plague knife

Other Units

Deathshroud Terminators. Three Models. They are armed with a plaguespurt gauntlet; manreaper


Foetid Bloat-drone. One Model. It is equipped with: fleshmower; plague probe

Foetid Bloat-drone. One Model. It is equipped with: fleshmower; plague probe

Plagueburst Crawler. One Model. It is equipped with: Plagueburst mortar; heavy slugger; 2 entropy cannons

How to Play Death Guard

Death Guard are an extremely resilient force that need to be at short ranges to excel. Death Guard can operate in a few different ways. They benefit from having some elite units to act as an anvil, but savvy players will realize that Poxwalkers or Cultists are necessary to achieve any sort of board control. At range, careful employment of Stratagems can help keep key units alive at important times, and allow them to close the gap. Then once there, the Death Guard can overwhelm the opponent, with the disgustingness of their resilience.

Death Guard Logo

Terminus Est

Author: Allen Campbell
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