We’re nearly six months into Age of Sigmar’s third edition and the third Battletome is finally upon us. Maggotkin of Nurgle have had the longest release schedule between books so far and with this release are officially passing the baton to Idoneth Deepkin. This update is long overdue, making this release an exciting one! One of the last books released for 1st edition in January of 2018, Games Workshop completely skipped over them in 2nd edition, throwing out some subfactions in Wrath of the Everchosen and some updated Warscrolls for Sloppity Bilepiper, Scrivener and Beasts of Nurgle in Broken Realms. But how do the new rules hold up, and do they establish Maggotkin as a dominant force or a mediocre also-ran?
Before we dive into these rules we’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing us with a preview copy of the Battletome for review purposes.
If you don’t want to read a detailed breakdown of what’s changed and just want the bullet points, note that the army is very different from what it’s been. Skipping an entire edition will do that. I highly recommend reading through the whole thing but here’s the big picture stuff:
- Cleaned up mechanics – The Nurgle book was written in 1st edition, a very different game with different mechanics. Namely there were abilities that procced on a 6+ instead of an unmodified 6, and many abilities were “Within” instead of “Wholly Within”. These were never errata’d so if the ability wasn’t removed or changed entirely, these changes are now here.
- Completely new Cycle of Corruption – Every ability has been changed, it’s also harder to manipulate than before which put the mechanic much further outside of your control than before.
- Slower Army – GW Scrubbed about every movement buff out of the army. The Great Unclean One’s Bell, Unnatural Vitality on the Wheel of Corruption and even the Gnarlmaw’s Run and Charge buffs. Many units are also an inch slower than they used to be, which overall makes for an army that’s going to struggle to play the objectives. Summoning and Deep Strike become more essential than before.
- Tougher – 5+ Ward across the whole army! No longer do you need to have a Harbinger of Decay babysitting your stuff, it’s just something you have. This makes the army eminently more durable. Combined with being slower this means the army is going to struggle to secure objectives in the enemy’s back line but once they do, they aren’t moving.
- More Expensive – In many cases, stuff is way more expensive. There are a few that buck the trend but you’re paying a premium for the tankier units and it makes an army that is much more elite.
- Fewer Mortal Wound output – The 1st edition tome had the ability to fire off a frankly obscene number of Mortal Wounds. This has largely been replaced, either giving an entirely different effect or offloaded onto the “Diseased” Mechanic, which is mortals with extra steps.
There seems to be more bad than good here, but in the larger picture it makes for a tough and sturdy army that plays much more like what someone envisions Nurgle like on the table: Slow, Elite and tough to kill.
This is the all-new ability that a lot of this book revolves around. You give enemy units disease points which become potential mortal wounds at the start of each Battleshock phase. Disease points are given to enemy units a number of ways:
- 1 point at the end of each movement phase and combat phase if the unit is within 3” of any Maggotkin of Nurgle units
- 1 point for each unmodified hit roll of 6 from missile and melee attacks from Maggotkin of Nurgle units
- Some spells and other abilities
An enemy unit can have up to 7 disease points at any given time and at the start of the battleshock phase the Nurgle player rolls a number of dice equal to the number of disease points for each unit, one by one. For each 4+ result that unit suffers 1 mortal wound. After dealing these mortal wounds the disease points on that unit is set to 1. Once an enemy unit has been given any disease points it will always have 1 then, unless healed; disease points can be healed instead of healing wounds to a unit, if you have access to it. The most common occurrence for this will be Heroic Recovery on a Hero, for example if you would heal 2 wounds you can either heal 2 wounds or remove 1 disease point and heal 1 wound.
This seems incredibly underwhelming: it’s chip damage. It’s pretty consistent chip damage, but it’s chip damage. Those extra wounds can be the difference of taking an objective or not, can take the last wounds off of a hero, etc but with a maximum of 7 on one unit at any given time it’s not wiping anything on its own.
Legions of Chaos
This rule remains unchanged from the FAQ. However, a key point is that most abilities around it have changed so that most abilities now require the Maggotkin of Nurgle keyword which means that coalitions will not benefit from most of the battle traits from this book. Expect this to become a running theme in other mono-god books in the future.
- 2 in 4 units can be Slaves to Darkness if they have the Mark of Chaos keyword, and this must be Nurgle (of course)
- 1 in 4 units can be Clans Pestilens (so still get cheap rat priests)
- 1 in 4 units can be Beast of Chaos so long as they don’t already have Tzeentch; any other unit gains Nurgle
You’ll notice Disgusting Resilient is missing from some warscrolls and there’s a good reason for that: It’s a faction ability now. Everything in the army has a 5+ ward. All of it. Mortal, daemon, doesn’t matter. It’s got a 5+ ward.
That’s not all: Everything heals 1 wound in each of your own hero phases. That’s not a lot, but it’s free and with Plaguebearers going to two wounds it’s also useful on all units. Some heroes increase this to D3 instead to units within 14” (not wholly). These are: Great Unclean Ones, the Glottkin, Festus the Leechlord, and Horitculous Slimux. Those last two feel kind of strange, but most armies have at least one of these so extra healing is nice.
Mortal players rejoice: your stuff is tougher now! Blightkings at 4 wounds with a 5+ ward are suddenly much harder to kill. This is compensated with everything costing far more, however.
Summoning Daemons of Nurgle
This is largely unchanged. I was hoping for a revamp of the summoning rules since they seemed simple and basic, but this is what we have. You gain 3 contagion points for having a Maggotkin of Nurgle unit wholly within your own territory, 3 more for one or more units wholly in enemy territory and 1 additional point or either/both of those if there are no enemy models in that territory. Then 1 more per Feculent Gnarlmaw without enemy models within 3” of them which is actually a decrease from the previous D3 they used to generate.
If you have at least 7 points you can spend them at the end of the movement phase to summon a unit to the table. This table is smaller than it used to be and no longer strange understrength units like before. Realistically you’re still only summoning one, maybe two, things in a game and generally Nurglings or Plaguenbearers since they cost 8 and 14 points respectively for objective control. Great Unclean Ones see a small hike to now costing 30 points to bring in.
What this means is you want to have a unit hanging back in your own territory, units that can quickly get into enemy territory and want to keep enemies away from your plague trees for maximum points.
Wheel of Contagion
The way the wheel works is exactly the same as before, you roll a D6 at the start of the first battle round and it paces along to the next step at the start of each battle round thereafter. The names have largely remained but the effects are completely different and there’s no longer a spell to move the wheel to what you want either, in fact there’s only 1 way to manipulate the wheel and it’s a once per game command trait that your general can take. The effects of the wheel now are:
- Unnatural Vitality – Maggotkin of Nurgle Heroes have a 4+ ward instead of a 5+. This replaces +2” to movement which is going to be very controversial. All of your movement buffs have been replaced across the board too, which will lead to a much slower army.
- Fecund Vigour – All units heal D3 wounds instead of just 1 in your own hero phase. Replaces +1 to wound, hard to say if this is better or worse, just very different. This is the only ability that repeats from the old wheel, just in a different place (It was previously in the unrollable “7” spot on the old wheel “Corrupted Regrowth”)
- The Burgeoning – Start of your own hero phase roll a number of dice equal to the battle round and each 4+ is an extra corruption point. Great to get late in the game, total shit if its the first thing you roll. Replaces dealing 1 mortal wound to non-Nurgle units and healing Nurgle units on a 5+, which was one of the worst abilities on the original wheel (sans maybe the next one) so good riddance.
- Plague of Misery – Heroes without the Nurgle Keyword cannot do any heroic actions and cannot order the Rally or Inspiring Presence commands. As written, unit champions still can which isn’t clear if it’s an oversight or intentional. Replaces reroll battleshock rolls of 1 which, man, can’t do worse than that!
- Nauseous Revulsions – Enemy units that are not Nurgle subtract 1 from all charge rolls and cannot finish pile in moves closer to friendly Nurgle units. Replaces reroll 6s to wound for the enemy. Hard to say which is better, though I err on the side of the new one being an improvement.
- Rampant Disease – Add 1 to all Disease rolls (those are the mortal wounds at the battleshock phase from the new allegiance ability). Replaces dealing D3 mortals to D3 enemy units. In the aggregate the new version will probably do more wounds, and encourages you to set it up if you know it’s coming.
- Corrupted Regrowth – Gain 1 corruption point for each Feculent Gnarlmaw in your army in your Hero phase. Good reason to set up as many Gnarlmaws as you can if you know it’s coming up and want to bank points for summoning. Replaces healing D3 wounds which is now covered by Fecund Vigour anyway.
I’m of two minds about the new wheel. I think on the whole the buffs got better, or at least were side grades to the original. On the other side there is almost no way to change the wheel once it is set up. While there were perhaps too many ways to manipulate it before, such that a player who knew what they were doing could get exactly the buff they wanted almost on demand, it does make the mechanic basically uninteractive. Since it changes only once a round, you will be on a very restricted track that will feel very repetitive game to game.
There are 9 traits to choose from for your General, 6 for mortal heroes and 3 for daemon heroes.
For your mortals:
- Grandfather’s Blessing – Once per game after the wheel of nurgle advances, you can advance it again. As mentioned this is now the only way to manipulate the wheel so might actually be worth considering – however there are just generally more useful traits.
- Infernal Conduit – If your General is alive on the battlefield then roll a dice in your own hero phase: a 1 does nothing, 2-5 adds 1 contagion point and a 6 adds D3. If you want to lean into summoning this is a nice way to reliably get more points.
- Living Plague – In your hero phase roll a dice for every enemy unit within 7” and on a 2+ that unit gains 1 disease point. You have a lot of ways of adding disease points so it’s easy to skip this.
- Avalanche of Rotten Flesh – After making a charge move with your General roll a number of dice equal to the charge result and each 6 deals 1 mortal wound and adds 1 disease point. On an average roll of 7 you’re doing 1 mortal wound and adding 1 disease point on a charge on average so isn’t amazing.
- Bloated with Corruption – When making your Disgustingly Resilient ward rolls when you roll a 6 a unit within 3” gains a disease point at your discretion. It’s nice that this isn’t only on the unit that was attacking you and as a result works against magic and shooting too.
- Overpowering Stench – Enemies within 7” cannot issue commands and wholly within 7” cannot receive commands. This is huge.
And for your daemon general:
- Gift of Febrile Frenzy – Once per battle the general can give all Maggotkin units wholly within 7” +1 attack with all melee profiles. It’s a small bubble of effect for not much benefit, if it was every turn all the time this would be great but it’s not.
- Nurgling Infestation – Flat -1 to all hit rolls (missile AND melee) targeting your general. Also nurglings within 7” get +1 to hit rolls, cause why not? Great to have the -1 to be hit on a Great Unclean One, the bonus to nurglings less useful but thematic.
- Pestilent Breath – Every friendly shooting phase pick a unit within 7” and roll a dice for each model in that target unit within 7”. For each 5+ rolled that unit suffers a mortal wound. Against hordes with a hero that’s going to be in combat anyways this is great for adding more damage, but generally you’ll want the above trait to be harder to kill.
These are split between those for your mortal heroes and for your daemonic friends.
- The Eye of Nurgle – A once per game effect that you can trigger in any of your own hero phases if there are any enemies within 14” that have any Disease Points. Roll 2D6 and on a 7 the closest enemy model is slain. Amusing if you can hit something like Nagash with it but a once per game ability with a 1 in 6 chance of going off just isn’t worth wasting an artifact on.
- The Foetid Shroud – In each combat phase pick an enemy Hero that is not a Monster and subtract 1 from all hit rolls that hero makes while adding +1 to all hit rolls that target that hero. This is cool but the majority of Heroes that are trying to be in combat are Monsters so not very generally useful.
- The Shield of Growths – The bearer gets to re-roll any of its save rolls if the roll is equal to or less than the number of wounds allocated to it. So if 3 wounds are allocated to the bearer then you can re-roll 1’s 2’s and 3’s to save meaning it gets better the more in danger the hero is prolonging its survival if it gets caught out.
- Flesh Peeler – In each of your hero phases roll a dice for each enemy within 7” and on a 4+ that unit takes a disease point. There are a lot of ways of handing out disease points in your army, especially this close ranged, so you’ll probably take something else but is a nice way to add those points on.
- The Splithorn Helm – The bearer has a 4+ ward instead of a 5+ ward. Great pick on a Lord of Blights or Lord of Plagues that you want to keep alive and get stuck in.
- The Fecund Flask – Another one-use artefact to use in your hero phase that affects the bearer. Roll a dice and on a 2+ heal all wounds allocated to the bearer. On a 1 however the bearer is slain and turns into a Beast of Nurgle that’s set up within 1” of where the bearer was.
- Muttergrub – If the bearer was not a Wizard then it can attempt to cast Gift of Disease as if it was. If the bearer was a Wizard though then it knows Gift of Disease in addition to any other spells it knows and gets +1 to casting rolls when attempting Gift of Disease. It’s a solid spell to hand out multiple Disease points to units further away to start dealing chip damage early so it is nice to have an additional cast with a non-Wizard or to have +1 to cast with one instead.
- Rustfang – what was once an incredible artefact has seen a hit. Now only once per battle you can pick 1 enemy hero within 3” and make it suffer -1 to its save rolls for the rest of the game. Still very good against larger tougher Heroes like Archaon or Mawkrushas.
- The Bountiful Swarm – Another once per game artefact to use in your hero phase. Pick an enemy model within 3” and roll a dice – if the result is more than the models’ wounds characteristic it’s slain. If that model happened to have a wounds characteristic of 4 or 5 then after its slain you can add a Beast of Nurgle to your army within 1” of the slain model. Needing to roll a 5+ to really make great use of this isn’t amazing when it’s once per game and taking up an artefact slot.
- The Endless Gift – When the bearer heals from Disgustingly Resilient then it always heals D3 instead of just 1 as if in range of a Locus of Fecundity. Considering Great Unclean Ones already get that and the other heroes that can take have 5 or less wounds it won’t come up often enough to actually make use of.
- Noxious Nexus – The bearer counts as 2 units instead of 1 for the purposes of the Diseased battle trait. This one really has me scratching my head. It does absolutely nothing. It seems to me that it was put in maybe before Diseased works how it does now during writing and wasn’t caught to be changed? It’s weird. This might be FAQ’d to actually work somehow, but for now is useless.
- Nurgle’s Nail – Pick one of the bearer’s melee weapons and each hit roll of 5 or 6 inflicts a disease point instead of just on a 6. Now, technically, the Great Unclean One is “army with a host of nurglings” so as dumb as it seems that’s the best choice for this since it’s 15 attacks.
- Tome of a Thousand Poxes – This is identical to the Muttergrub artefact above. Still solid.
- The Witherstave – Enemy units within 7” add 1 to Disease rolls. Fantastic on a Great Unclean One with its large base and wants to be in combat anyways to do even more mortal wounds.
Spells have been consolidated. Instead of 3 for Rotbringers, 3 for Mortals and 3 for Daemons it’s now 6 for mortals and 3 for Daemons. Much cleaner and more efficient. Nurgle had some seriously good casting in its first edition tome that managed to survive through 2nd edition (Blades of Putrification and Favoured Poxes stand out), and all the spell named survive into this book but in many cases their effects are very different. I don’t think it’s as good as it was and there are some real controversial changes here
- Magnificent Buboes (CV 7) – A -1 to Hit and Spell rolls for a unit within 21″. Previously did mortal wounds instead of -1 to hit, but the -1 to Hit makes it a much more versatile spell that is appropriate for wizards and beat sticks alike (And especially Warrior-Wizards like the Glottkin).
- Plague Squall (CV 6) – Roll 7 dice, for each 6 give a Disease Point to a different unit. Huge downgrade, which used to do D3 mortals. So you go from an average of 2 mortal wounds to 0.5. There’s easier ways to hand out Disease Points but can be a nice way to put them on back-field heroes early for chip damage.
- Cloying Quagmire (CV 5) – Roll a dice and if you beat the enemy unit’s save then halve their movement and subtract 2 from run and charge rolls. Previously it did D3 mortals and I like this more? It’s a real utility spell that’s perfect for messing with high armour targets, making melee units near immobile.
- Blades of Putrefaction (CV 7) – Oh…this one’s gonna hurt. Previously it did a mortal on 6+s to hit (Notably not an unmodified 6, so there was a brief window where All Out Attack let you get them on a 5+). Now it does a Disease Point on a 5 or 6, a huge downgrade and given you already cause Disease Points on a 6 it’s just not worth the bonus. Trash.
- Gift of Disease (CV 6) – Not to be confused with the old Gift of Contagion, which has gone missing. Now it causes a disease point on a unit within 21″, and then another point for every unit within 7″ of it. Helpful if your opponent clumps stuff and has a nice long range but you’re likely not rushing to use this.
- Rancid Visitations (CV 6) – This spell is nuts. Pick an enemy unit within 7” and roll a dice for each model within 7” of the caster. Each 2+ is a mortal wound to the unit. This is short ranged but powerful, being able to almost delete a horde unit that wondered too close is insane. Especially good on the Glottkin which wants to be close up and personal anyways but there’s a really fun combo play here: playing as Filthbringers with a Coven of 3 Rotbringer Sorcerers. You take the Arcane Tome on one of them to give it a second cast and keep all 3 near each other to get +3 to cast on the one with 2 casts. You take the Umbral Spellportal and cast it with +3 and then send this spell through it, increasing its range massively and causing untold damage to larger units in the enemy army.
- Favoured Poxes (CV 7) – Hasn’t changed, pick an enemy unit and until your caster moves, attacks, casts a spell, unbinds a spell, or is slain the target subtracts 1 from hit, wound and saves. Can be absolutely devastating on your opponent’s big centrepiece unit. Great for something like the Poxbringer once it’s got itself where it needs to be and isn’t expecting to fight.
- Fleshy Abundance (CV 7) – Add 1 to the wounds characteristic to a unit until your next hero phase. On average, with a 5+ ward this is actually worth 2 wounds so it’s a decent value, particularly on more frail characters or a unit of Plaguebearers to make them even harder to shift off an objective.
- Stream of Corruption (CV 6) – Pick a unit within 7″ and roll a die for each model within. On each 5+ deal a mortal. Alternatively pick a unit within 14″ and deal mortals on 6s. This is an interesting one for two reasons, one its one of the remaining ways to deal mortals directly, and it’s also on the Rotbringer Sorcerer’s warscroll, giving it access to a mortal as well. Otherwise a decent anti-horde spell that is worth bringing along if you have only daemons since the above mortal spell Rancid Visitations is just much better.
Subfactions (Plague Legions)
6 subfactions, four return from Wrath of the Everchosen, though largely in name only, with 2 brand new ones. Continuing the tradition of the previous two battletomes, these are only perks and are not saddled with a mandatory Command Trait or Artefact. They’re balanced pretty well, as none stand out as particularly great but have clear or obvious niches for you to take advantage of.
- Munificent Wanderers – Plaguebearers of 10 or more cause 2 disease points to enemy units within 3″ instead of 1. Great for Plaguebearer spam, which is a valid strategy albeit a bit expensive now.
- Befouling Host – If I had to pick one I think this might be the “best” for all-daemon lists. It lets you add 2 Gnarlmaws to start, instead of 1. Naturally, both have to be wholly within your territory, but it can get the contagion points rolling sooner if you’re building for summoning.
- Droning Guard – Forces a -1 for your Plague Drones to be hit either round 1 or, most importantly, the round they’re set up. They have a Deep Strike built into the Lord of Afflictions so they can get a bit of insurance if you bring a few in. Unfortunately it’s only the turn they’re brought in so if they fail their charge roll then they lose the bonus before being attacked.
- Blessed Sons – Blaze of Glory but gross and only for your Mortal units; roll a number of dice equal to the wounds characteristic when a Mortal Maggotkin model is slain but instead of dealing mortals for each 6 you deal a disease point for enemy an unit when killed within 1″. It’s not bad, and can do cumulative damage if you bring a lot of Blightkings. Amusing however when the Glottkin dies and rolls 18 dice.
- Drowned Men – Move your Pusgoyle Blightlords and Lord of Afflictions 8″ before the first battle round. This one requires you to really build your list around Pusgoyles to take it over Blessed Sons but giving your units pre-game moves when your army is so slow can get you on to objectives even quicker.
- Filthbringers – This is a complicated one, as it unlocks a whole new unit (kind of): the Rotbringer coven. This is just 3 Rotbringers bought as 1 Hero but remain separate and saves you a few points. Each turn you can pick one of them and that Sorcerer gets +1 to spellcasting rolls, plus an additional one for each other Sorcerer near him to a maximum of +3. The unit is expensive but +3 to casting is pretty damn great too.
Matched Play Rules
A whopping 4 new ones. More than we’ve seen anywhere else so far. Encouraging, honestly as I’d love to see more variety to possibly justify their use.
- Corrupt Arcane Nexus – Have a Wizard within 3″ of the center and no enemy units within 6″ of the center. First part, fine, second part not so much. Like much of these, it’s too easy for your opponent to disrupt in the end game.
- Tend the Garden – You have to plant a Gnarlmaw in your opponent’s territory and make sure no enemies are within 3″. This is more doable, especially if you plant a tree on the last battle round with a summon.
- Spread Rampant Disease – Have every enemy unit infected with at least 1 disease point at the end of the battle. Also doable if you swing this at the very last battle round, but much of it is going to be based on how much healing your opponent has to be able take them off. Probably too risky to bring to a GT.
- Blessed Desecration – You need a mortal general and pick a piece of terrain wholly within your opponent’s territory. You succeed if you can get on top of it, a pretty viable choice if you pick something tanky like the Glottkin or a deepstriking Lord of Afflictions.
Overall, these aren’t too bad. Like everything we’ve seen so far it does expose that maybe the core options were a mistake as they’re largely just easier to do. These do show some creativity though, and some are even potentially viable.
Six count em’ six new Battle Tactics. Unlike Grand Strategies these are more flexible and can be shuffled into your deck of options if they come up, and no harm no foul if they don’t.
- Feed the Maggots – Kill 7 enemy models with Disease Points this turn. A bit too chancy, if you think you can cap out to 7 Disease Points on several 1 wound units it might be worth a stab. Better on the turn the wheel of Corruption is giving you mortals on a 3+ roll instead of 4+.
- Nurture the Gnarlmaw – Choose a Gnarlmaw with an enemy unit within 12″ of it and end the turn with no enemy units within 12″ any more. This is alright if an enemy unit has wondered close to a plague tree without many models left in the unit and you can reliably pulverise it.
- Gifts of Nurgle – All friendly units need to inflict a disease point. Chancy, good for low drop armies or late-game when you don’t have a ton of units left. Otherwise you need to get creative as not everything wants to get into combat to try and roll 6s. What’s a bit unclear though is if you have multiple units within 3″ of one enemy unit at the end of the movement or combat phase then which one gave it a disease point? Did they all? Do you pick just 1? I lean towards they each count as having given the enemy unit the disease point but that makes this very easy to score.
- Glory to the Grandfather! Destroy more enemy units than friendly units are destroyed. Be judicious and careful and this is a pretty easy one to get if you snipe a weak unit or two, especially with how tough nurlge units are now.
- The Droning – 1 fly-mounted unit in each quadrant. Very simple non-interactive one, which you really want. If you have 4 mounted units or more, go for it.
- Sudden Domination – Summon a GUO within 3″ of an objective you control in your opponent’s territory. Brutal requirements, summoning a GUO is really difficult to pull off, and you have to summon it under very specific requirements.
Thricefold Befoulment actually returns as some weird joke. This is going to cost you 1485 points and grants Magnificent. Hey if you wanna go for this, you could do worse. Maybe.
The actual viable option, Rotbringer Cyst is excellent. A Unified (one-drop) battalion of 1 Mortal Hero (and up to 2 more) and 3 Mortal Troops (and up to 3 more). In a sufficient Mortal heavy list you can pack more into this one drop than you can a battle regiment. What’s nice is if you’re playing Filthbringers and want to bring a lot of heroes the Coven only counts as 1.
Everything got more expensive. A lot more expensive in fact, it feels like on average point increase is much higher than we’ve seen so far. That is on top of the point increase everything got when the new edition hit so you’re going to feel every choice you make on a list.
This isn’t really a bad thing, due to Disgustingly Resilient being an army-wide ability your stuff is much more resilient than it used to be which softens the point cost by quite a bit. You’ll have to pick your options carefully which gives the army a distinct identity.
Because it’s been so long many warscrolls are radically different, and it would be impossible to catalog every change. We will catalog minor changes such as weapon profiles where it’s relevant, but mostly focus on ability changes. You can also assume a lot of outdated terminology such as “6+ to hit” are now “unmodified 6s” and the like.
Much beefier than he was before. He lost an inch of movement but shot up to 20 wounds. His weapon profile is much the same. His abilities have changed substantially, instead of dealing mortals on a ward roll of 6 he grants a disease point to any enemy within 3” which is probably “better” for the first roll but has diminishing returns after the first (since they go away at the end of the turn). Mountains of Loathsome flesh is now a Monstrous Rampage that does static damage that declines with damage taken which is a positive on the aggregate. Finally his warscroll spell is based on a static 5+ roll instead of a damage table value, which is good at low health but worse at max health.
In exchange he costs as much as his unnamed brethren, which puts him at an expensive 495. He’s a decent, more caster-heavy sidegrade to the generic GUO. It’s just with that point cost, you really only get to pick one and I think that the GUO is gonna win out for being able to have access to artifacts and command traits.
Great Unclean One
Gonna be a lot of unhappy campers here, but hear me out. First, the cost: these guys are 495 points now. Despite that, they continue to cement themselves as the bulwark that supports your army with an array of weapon options that change the buffs it hands out.
The Doomsday Bell is basically dead now. On a 2-5 you get a contagion point, and D3 on a 6. Far cry from the 3” of movement that it used to be and I think is going to lead to a lot of pissed off people that built theirs with a bell. However, the actual weapon profiles better. The spit attack is now a -3 rend and damage so that acid is going to cut through almost anything now. The Flail is now 5 attacks instead of 3, does 3 damage per swing and a static 3+ wound instead of a diminishing profile and the sword doesn’t lose attacks as he’s injured. The nurglings now do have a diminishing number of attacks but at full health do 15 attacks. Remember, you inflict a Disease Point for each 6, so being able to spam such a sheer number of attacks is huge for you.
The way to go is going to be double blade. The Bileblade now grants an extra spell instead of +1 to cast, which is a bit of a trade off but in combat it’s actually identical in combat to the flail just with 1 less attack. Unfortunately, Plague Wind took a hit as it is now a single disease point per unit instead of mortals, and only on a 4+ but good for getting that spare endless spell or mystic shield out there.
You also get a Monstrous Action that’s the same name as the Glottkin that’s like Stomp but deals a flat 4 mortal wounds (which decreases from damage).
Overall I think the changes mean the GUO is more suited to getting up front with his boys and fighting rather than hanging back as he did in the past. The sheer number of attacks will rip through weaker things and even the larger units will struggle to do much damage to him sitting on 18 wounds now. An amusing change too is that when you roll a ward roll of 6 then you inflict 1 mortal wound to any enemy unit within 3” instead of just the attacking unit.
Backbone of your daemon list, he’s a lot better now. He lost the ability to restore one model but he can pick a plaguebearer unit nearby and both fight in tandem at the start of combat. You’ll definitely want one with your plaguebearer horde.
Nurgle’s Tallyman is completely different now. Instead, each hero phase you roll a number of dice based on units in your army it can see (3 for GUOs, 2 for Plaguebearer Hosts and Gnarlmaws and 1 for everyone else). For each 5+ you need to keep a tally, maxing out at 7. You can then use these to reroll any Ward or Caster rolls. It’s not nearly as versatile as the old one, which gave buffs to just about everything, but far easier to get going early and doesn’t need nearly as much bookkeeping. Each of these re-rolls are one-use only and they don’t decrease the number as you use them either, so it truly is a maximum of 7 across a game.
No changes, which isn’t surprising given he and Bilepiper were updated in Broken Realms. Remarkably went down 5 points which means a lot more when everything else went up. He was totally fine as he was so that’s ok! He is now one of very few ways to give units extra attacks though, so expect to be seeing more of him on the table now to boost the lowly Plaguebearers from 1 attack to 2.
Like Spoilpox, mostly the same but a stabbing we will go now gives +1 to wound instead of +1 attack. Disappointing, to be sure, but still a worthy buff. No point change, which compared to everything around him means a lot more.
Mostly the same. Beast Handler is a bit better, having its range extended to 14” instead of 7”, and it grants an extra +1 to hit for Beasts of Nurgle. Otherwise the same old, and even worse now considering the changes to the Feculent Gnarlmaw.
The big guy everyone wants to know about. This guy has gotten a lot in this book but you pay for it. Weighing in at a hefty 700 points this guy costs the same as other God tier heroes and he might just be worth it. Bumped up to 20 wounds with the 5+ ward the whole army gets he’s gonna be tough to take down. With more reliable and less swingy attacks for better damage output and a unique Monstrous Action that deals a flat 5 mortal wounds to an enemy unit (that decreases as it suffers wounds) he’s no slouch in combat. The only big downside here is no longer handing out a big bubble of +1 attacks.
What’s really cool though is a new command that he can issue at the end of the enemy movement phase. The command is issued by the Glottkin if it’s within 12” of any enemies to a different Maggotkin of Nurgle unit within 12” of an enemy unit and allows that unit AND the Glottkin each to make a charge immediately. The unit receiving the order follows the core rules range for recieving orders, so 12″ or 18″ if the Glottkin is your general (which might be a case of making it your General). The Glottkin must be within 12” of an enemy unit and the unit receiving the order must be within 12” of an enemy unit, it doesn’t have to be the same unit! The timing of this also means that if the charge is successful then enemies now within 3” add a disease point. Making out of sequence charges to tie up enemy units is incredibly powerful, stopping powerful abilities enemies have causing wounds or increased damage on the charge and stopping them from charging other units you didn’t want them to is really good.
The big downside: he’s got a 5” move now. Used to be 8” and decreased with damage taken but now it’s just 5” all the time so getting across the board is that much harder earlier on. The large base does help him go between points once up the board at least, but isn’t ideal.
The Maggoth Lords
All 3 of these have seen buffs alongside the points increases you’d expect; taking all 3 coming in just over 900 points. Now having a 5+ ward (as I always thought they should anyway) they’re innately tougher to kill. They are however a bit slower with only 8” move that decreases with wounds suffered. All of their mounts now have much better melee profiles and are identical to each other with 5 attacks (decreases on damage table) hitting on 3+ wounding 2+ with -2 rend and 3 damage. Those are some nasty attacks that will actually be able to break through armour and deal damage. What’s interesting is that they each have a different number of wounds and very different abilities to each other too:
Orghotts Daemonspew was always the best in melee of the 3 and this remains to be true now with 7 Attacks at rend -1 and Damage 2 but doesn’t gain any attacks when charging (which is just better to always have more attacks). His Acid Ichor rule has changed to match the Great Unclean One, so on Ward rolls of 6 you can allocate a wound to something within 3” which is cool. This is nice in that it doesn’t require you to be suffering wounds to cause more back and with 14 wounds you’ll have plenty of chances to use it. He’s lost his command ability to hand out re-rolls to wound but instead now can issue a Friendly Maggotkin of Nurgle unit without spending a command point every turn.
Bloab Rotspawned is the wizard of the 3 and I was really hoping to see him become a 2 cast wizard, but it didn’t happen and still only casts and unbinds 1 spell but at least gets +1 to casting rolls now. At 13 wounds he’s still got 1 more than he used to and the ward adds a lot to staying alive. His Daemon Flies has seen a hefty buff now activating in each enemy Shooting phase and every Combat phase each enemy within 7” on a 4+ suffers a mortal wound as well as suffering -1 to all hit rolls. His own spell Miasma of Pestilence is entirely unchanged but now with Disease Points has the chance to trigger after Battleshock as well, potentially causing a load of mortal wounds.
Lastly, Morbidex Twiceborn has seen a complete rewrite in his abilities with his scythe and ranged attack being basically unchanged. Instead of giving Nurglings +1 to wound rolls he now returns 1 slain Nurgling swarm base to a friendly unit nearby. His healing on a 4+ has been removed; instead he heals half the number of wounds he has suffered at the end of each battleshock phase. Still at 12 wounds but with hefty healing like that if he’s taken down to a single wound then in the battleshock phase he’ll back up to 7 wounds (half of 11 being 5.5 and the rule rounds up explicitly).
Of the three I’d expect to see Orghott’s and Bloab taken most often in that order, for sheer combat prowess and some extra magic in your army.
Lord of Affliction
Rejoice! The Lord of Affliction’s mount attacks have been consolidated into one profile of 6 attacks, which also applies to the Plague Drones and Pusgoyle Blightlords. Probably the most tedious part about using them and now just one roll.
Otherwise the warscroll has had a top to bottom rewrite. Incubatch is the only ability that hasn’t changed. This guy now does mortal D3 wounds on the charge on a 4+ (or 2+ with a Dolorus Toscin) with Wrack and Ruin. Instead of having a command ability to increase move on Pusgoyles the Lord of Affliction can now be set up in reserve and be set up on the table end of your movement phase more than 9” away from enemies; when he does he can also drag up to 2 Pusgoyle or Plague Drone units with him and set them up near him when he drops in.
This changes their role substantially, they don’t generate as many Mortals as they did but now give your flies a much needed ability to get where they need to be faster. With many movement buffs cut off it’s more important than ever to have some way of getting behind the enemy and with this guy you can get a decent number of models in the backline who all count as two models for capturing objectives.
Largely the same, his re-rolls against Heroes are now +1 to hit instead but can’t disable a weapon anymore which kinda sucks. He got an extra wound but a worse save. With the 5+ ward built in now he’s ok but definitely a downgrade. Now when you want to set him up off-table with Master of the Slime Fleet he can bring up to 3 Maggotkin of Nurgle mortal units with him instead of just 1 unit of Blightkings. Reinforced units count as 2 though for that but gives you more options and Pusgoyles might not be a terrible idea with their faster move too since this sets them up from a battlefield edge. The downside here though is that everything mortal has gotten tougher with inbuilt 5+ ward and almost all of the units have seen a hefty points increase to reflect it so you may not be so quick to put a third of your army in reserve.
Lord of Blights
Its own shooting attack has been dropped, instead now just using the same profile as the one he hands off to a friendly Blightking. The one you loan to a single Blightking (not the whole unit now) has been retooled so it does a number of shots equal to the models in a target unit (maximum of 7). Have them both shoot at the same unit and that’s up to 14 shots at rend -1 with Disease points being handed out on 6’s. The range has been halved to 7” which means you’re shooting less, otherwise similar to the Poxbringer you get to fight in tandem with a unit of Blightkings, making him a near auto include if you bring them.
Festus the Leechlord
Hasn’t changed at all. Even his spell has remained, even though it inexplicably has a different name, The Leechlord’s Curse which inflicts a -1 to saves for the rest of the game on affected units. Good stuff. I really expected to see this go and was shocked to see it’s still there since there are so few spells that last the entirety of a game.
Harbinger of Decay
Completely unrecognizable. This guy was more or less a staple in Nurgle, with a command ability that granted a 5+ ward to all mortal units within 7” but of course that’s gone now. So what does it have to replace it? Instead he’s more of just a nuisance if he gets in close. Augur of Entropy gives D3 command points if he is within 7” of your general but only in the first battle round making it less useful than it could have been since there are often just less things to spend command points on in the first turn. With Shudderblight if he gets into combat then he picks an enemy within 3” and on a 3+ they cannot issue or receive commands (similar to Roar, without needing to be a Monster and being able to be used on units immune to Monstrous Actions).
What was once an auto-include is now a pretty meh choice which is too bad since this is maybe my favourite Nurgle hero model.
This guy is getting a new model released alongside the battletome (which we will be showing off later today). But for now, let’s look at the warscroll. Previously he just went by “Sorcerer”, not a very descriptive name. He’s pretty much exactly like he used to be, except now he “taints” an endless spell that he’s cast, allowing it to hand out disease points by moving in close range to enemy units. Potentially a good use for something cheap like the Burning Skull. Otherwise his warscroll spell the Stream of Corruption is a standard horde killer, roll a die for each model and on a 5+ deal a mortal but can now be doubled in range from 7” to 14” dealing mortal wounds on 6’s only instead. With a lot of your mortal wound output taken away this is a bit of a blessing, and can be exploited with the Umbral Spellportal (also good for disease points then), as distance is measured from the portal it comes through. Overall a solid purchase for your army.
Lord of Plagues
Retains his role as a beatstick, but saw a lot of changes. Rotten Corpse Mulch saw a rewrite, getting 1 Contagion point for each unit killed by the unit instead of wounds dealt. A downgrade by far, to a point this feels next to useless. A new ability Sevenfold Slaughter grants an additional attack to a Blightking unit (for free!) and finally he can fight in tandem with a Blightking unit, similar to the Lord of Blights.
Damn near mandatory if you bring Blightkings, either this guy or a Lord of Blights. Which is going to largely depend on taste.
Fecula Flyblown & the Wurmspat
The Underworlds warband. Just a slightly better Rotbringer Sorcerer who can cast a second spell once per game, she comes with 2 bodyguards (the Wurmspat) who bloat her cost by 110 points. I actually don’t think she’s bad, as the Wurmspat serve a useful purpose as backfield zone deniers in your otherwise elite army, it’s just that premium is almost enough for another hero.
2 wounds a piece now, which means your healing in your hero phase actually means something for them. They lost -1 to be hit in melee, it’s only against ranged attacks now, but only requires 5 models instead of 10. Combined with the 5+ ward these guys are hardier than ever. The only downside to taking these in droves is being on 32mm bases with 1” attacks and now almost no way to increase their number of attacks from 1 each.
Blightkings now have more attacks and actually pack some rend but don’t do D6 hits on 6’s to hit anymore. Instead, at the end of the combat phase the unit rolls 1 dice per model in their unit and deal a mortal wound for each roll that exceeds an enemy unit’s wound characteristic (one die for each model) with an ability called Relentless Attackers.
They are now more consistent and less “Swingy” and will continue to make up the backbone of your army as the “tough” battleline.
Beasts of Nurgle
Battleline in Befouling Hosts. Not many changes, again not shocking as they recently got an update in Broken Realms but their retreat move now causes disease points instead of mortal wounds, which is a bit of a downgrade. They got 15 points cheaper though so that is in their favor but still probably just too expensive to really make use of. If you want just the cheapest battleline and aren’t fussed about sub-faction then these might be for you coming in 40 points cheaper than Plaguebearers.
These little guys are exactly the same, except for losing the 2+ dealing a mortal wound which is fine. I think these guys have gotten better with the rules changing around them. The number of low level attacks they get is pretty good now with the Diseased trait, as you care less about how good the attack is and just volume, and with a general decrease in movement options a cheap unit to deep strike behind enemy lines to snag an objective becomes more important than before. They’re still bargain priced.
Battleline in Droning Guard. No longer gain +1 attack for being near Heroes but the ranged attack (which is more of a shotgun blast at 7”) based on how many models are in the target unit up to 7 each. Otherwise the attacks of the mount were consolidated. It’s fine.
Gained an extra wound, 2 extra attacks per model and mount attacks were consolidated. A combination of abilities we’ve seen before, Wrack and Ruin (same as Lord of Afflictions) gives impact mortals on the charge while Relentless Attackers (same as Blightkings) gives a few mortals at the end of the fight phase.
Whether you bring these or Blightkings is going to be based on your faction and build. They are fewer models than Blightkings, but can move around more easily and be deep struck when brought with a Lord of Afflictions.
The last nail in the movement buffs’ coffin, you no longer get run and charge when nearby. They really did a number scrubbing all those movement buffs huh?
You get 1 contagion point (those things you use for summoning) for each one of these you have on the battlefield that has no enemies within 3” but that’s….basically it. If a Monstrous Action is used against it too then the whole terrain piece is removed instead of just not getting its Warscroll abilities like most.
This is a pretty hefty nerf to the plague tree overall and you won’t be racing to summon in more any time soon.
Bair: Overall this army is solid. Nothing here screams of broken or needing to be nerfed in an FAQ in the near future. The army may look different to how you were playing it but that doesn’t mean the army is bad now either; it’s a far more elite army that’s slower moving and harder to kill just like you’d expect a Nurgle army to be. The obvious downside to being more elite is leading to issue with taking and holding objectives but hordes are the one thing that this army can pretty easily deal with.
RagnarokAngel: I concur. I think there’s a lot to like here. It’s going to cause a lot of angry folks as the book has completely uprooted the army and changed it. What it’s changed it to is something a bit more in line with what people imagine nurgle to be: Slow, Tough and Elite. You’re going to be near impossible to kill on the point and will win the slow game. It feels like a book with solid balance and a standard for what books should aim for.
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