Short Daemon Tactica: Beasts of Nurgle

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My continuing look at Codex Daemons focuses on Beasts of Nurgle. A mass of contradictory special rules, how on earth can you use this very odd unit? Truth is, I’m not exactly sure myself.

The current Games Workshop model. Not brilliant in my opinion.

So let’s get into this. What makes Beasts of Nurgle such a hard choice to justify is how they almost seem to fulfill the same role as Plague Drones, yet do it far less elegantly. Being cavalry does give them some advantages, and compared to most of your force they will seem to dash across the board in the blink of an eye. By other armies standards though, that’s still a little on the slow side.

It also seems counter productive for them to have that speed when you consider their special rule Attention Seeker, which allows them an out of turn sequence activation to charge any enemy unit that has charged one of your own within 12″. It’s a nifty little rule that will allow for some much-needed line defence of your force, which otherwise may occupy units with more important tasks like  Plague Drones or Greater Daemons.

Combine this with the It Will Not Die special rule and 4 wounds and you have the potential be a thorn in a units side due to them being immune to instant death from anything but Strength 10 weaponry and, sadly, force weapons. But then why the speed that will move them out ahead of the rest of the force? I can only assume its to help positioning and maybe if you want to use them as a flanking unit to your main battle force, slipping around to catch opponents squads in lovely no retreat scenarios.

The original Shaggoth like model, painted by Utan on Dakka Dakka

But then you take a look at the cost and well… a single Beast of Nurgle is not worth more than a Plague Drone. Not at all. Especially as they have no upgrades, what you are left with is a big lumbering beast that can take a hit whilst dishing out a random number of poisoned attacks. At least its D6+1, but even then, spending over 450 points for a full squad and a bad dice roll giving you only 18  poisoned attacks…well its not great. So what can you use Beasts of Nurgle for then?

Distraction and delays mostly, along with some defensive play.

A Beasts of Nurgle converted from Reaper purple worms by deathsalvo. Amazing!

Using the speed of the unit, you can race ahead of the main force, or else Deep Strike in and distract an opponents firepower for a turn or two. Either way, there’s a good chance you will survive most shooting short of a Railgun or Demolisher shell (and if your opponent is using them on you, it’s win win for the rest of your force), panicking your opponent. No-one wants a unit that can’t be easily killed holding up their key combat units or assaulting a firebase. Even if they don’t do much, they should comfortably be able to hold up terminators for a few turns, neutering their effectiveness, or else taking down a low initiative Monstrous Creature or two.

If at all possible, you could even Deep Strike behind or into cover, which will increase your existing cover save provided by Shrouded, all ready for a next turn assault to add to an opponents woe even more! 

Then there’s the idea that you can use them to just support your line, acting as a deterrent against enemy units assaulting yours units. You will get defensive grenades anyway regardless due to Slime Trail, so even if an opponent then counter charges the Beasts of Nurgle, they won’t get any bonuses for charging, taking the bite out of many assault units.

Still, it’s really hard to recommend Beasts of Nurgle, especially as you can spend the points on things like Plague Drones or Daemon Princes instead. Perhaps proxy them first and see if you can find a role for them in your force.

In the end, their Attacks characteristic sums them up all too well. On a good turn, a full squad can munch through anything (64 poisoned attacks at turn!) whilst being a great road block to your opponent. On a bad day, it’s just a 450 point lump you throw at your opponent so they can’t get to the good stuff.

So that’s it for my exploration of Nurgle units! Next week I will be talking Mono Nurgle Lists and Tactics. The week after that it will be Slannesh – just in time for New Year!

Beasts of Nurgle currently aren’t available even from Games Workshop! Go ebay the lovely old models instead.

Short Daemon Tactica: Nurgle Characters

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As its the Christmas season, lets catch up with those characters in a Daemon army that are just like a cuddly Santa Claus. Except for the decay and pestilence. Nurgle’s made that his own.

A festive Greater Daemon of Nurgle in the GW Battle Bunker in Maryland, USA

Great Unclean One: Greater Daemon of Nurgle

So, what else needs to be said? One of the most powerful units of the entire game and one of the toughest too, his only downside is that he’s hampered by being Slow and Purposeful. However, a lack of wings means he does come in considerably cheaper than other greater demons, and when you consider he can Deep  Strike…well there’s very little reason not to, unless you plan on using his bulk to intimidate an opponent as he waddles up the battlefield.

His other great advantage is Psychic Powers. Whilst it is tempting to spend all your points on Daemonic Reward rolls, as all Nurgle Psycher’s have access to Biomancy, you could end up having a pretty much unstoppable model with a few luck rolls. Toughness 10, Strength 9 (all the better for those poison re-rolls against other Monstrous Creatures), 8 Attacks, Initiative 7 and Feel No Pain! All for under the base starting cost of a Bloodthirster!

Again, he’s a slow model, so depending on what Psychic Powers you roll, he may just be useful as a line-breaker for the the rest of your forces, creeping slowly on but almost impossible to put down. In the end, he’s so versatile I can’t imagine not taking him in games over 1500 points. 200-300 points is an investment, and if you want a faster but more fragile option its better to stick with a Daemon Prince, but I’m pretty sure the models is capable of earning the investment back. Even if its just to keep the rest of your force alive long enough to get close enough for combat. It’s a purchase that’s pretty much mandatory.

Greater Daemon Character: Ku’Gath Plaguefather

This guy though, I’m not too convinced on. He’s a little too pricey for what is being offered in his special rules. Overall, whilst he is cheaper and has some stat increases over a basic Great Unclean One, the general downgrading of his abilities (and him being merely a level 1 Psyker) means that for 260 points, he’s probably not worth it unless you are dead set on a theme that includes him. In almost all respects, even with his ranged weapon, the basic Great Unclean One is better. That Ku’Gath doesn’t have his own model yet just seals the deal for me.

Daemon Princes of Nurgle

Daemon Prince model by Forgeworld

Now, onto the last big scary beastie you can field in a mono Nurgle force. Along with Heralds, Daemon Princes are probably one of the most customizable units in the entire list. With the wings he can be given, it’s tempting to just zoom him up the board casting psychic powers before leaping into combat. This does leave him pretty vulnerable and a priority target, but I’m convinced that if advanced in concert with some Plague Drones or a few Deep Striking units, well, your opponent will have a much harder time deciding what he needs to take care of first.

As, if he takes wings, he becomes one of the most manoeuvrable units in your army, I would be tempted to give him an roll on the Exalted Rewards table. He’s a big enough being to not need a special close combat weapon, and the Exalted Rewards table gives him access to Hellforged Artefacts, with the very tempting PortalGlyph or Eternal Blade. It comes down to preference, but I quite like the ability to get an extra small unit of Plaguebearers a turn for free.

Otherwise, without wings (or with them for that matter) grab the armour upgrade, as a 3+ save will go a long way towards keeping him safe from small arms fire like bolters when combined with Shrouded and an Invulnerable Save. Whatever your choice, he will be pricey, which means that that unless you making an army of mostly Monstrous Creatures or having a game at 2000 points or above, you really only have room for him or a Great Unclean One, not both.

Herald of Nurgle

Games Workshops Champion of Nurgle, as painted by Mengel Miniatures

My choice of go to guys for a Nurgle list, Heralds are the workhorse characters, accomplishing things that their Monstrous Creature counterparts couldn’t dream of. Versatile, cheap and deployed in 4s as a single HQ slot. I’ve already covered most of their uses in an earlier piece I wrote. To avoid repeating myself, it’s best I just link you to it here.

It is worth noting in addition though, that unlike the other gods Heralds, the ‘mount’ (does it even count as that?) that Heralds can take doesn’t really add much in the way of movement or added value, so they are best off staying in Plaguebearer units where they can be best utilized.

Herald Character: Epidermis

A sort of ‘Super Herald’ this character was a lot of players model of choice in the last codex because of just how broken he was and how loose rule wording meant you could end up having apocalypse games where all your Nurgle models (even from other lists that weren’t Chaos Daemons) had Feel no Pain and power weapons that wounded on a 2+. The models rules have been understandably toned down since then, to a 12″ radius with very reduced bonuses. In the end though, it means that now he’s not broken, and he’s not worth taking really!

Costing about 2 and a half times the cost of a normal Herald may have been excusable when he had the abilities to match, but now he’s very much a situational character, dependent on getting the kills in and being able to get close enough to the enemy for the effects to be useful.

Perhaps worth taking him in fun lists, as your opponent still won’t like it when his Hive Tyrant gets taken down by Nurglings if he’s at full steam. But his lack of mobility means that your opponent, if he’s careful, will be able to just engage units in combat outside of Epidermis’s 12″ range, negating any advantages.

Nurgle forces are slow enough as it is- the last thing you want is to be clumping up so you can be destroyed by blast weaponry.

So that’s it for my exploration of Nurgle units! Next week I will be talking Mono Nurgle Lists and Tactics. The week after that it will be Slannesh – just in time for New Year!

Firestorm games have most of the Nurgle range for sale on their site- all at a minimum of 10% off.