Beanith’s Road to… NoVA?: Building a Death Guard First Army, Part 1

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Beanith's Death Guard Project

Beanith’s Death Guard Pile of Potential

In this new ongoing series, we’ll be following Beanith’s hobby progress as he builds a Death Guard army from scratch, aiming to have something done in time for the NoVA 40k GT in August. Which he isn’t attending. And also may or may not still be happening. Look, the point is, follow along as he works on his Death Guard.

The Project: Build a Death Guard army for the make believe version of the NoVA 40K GT
Armies: Death Guard
Target Deadline: September-ish maybe.

Shhhhh, don’t tell Rob but I’m not actually going to NoVA so his pointy stick of encouragement will be… pointless (Editor’s Note: Damn you, Beanith!). Instead my part in this series of Hobby Progress articles will be based around myself as a newbie to competitive gaming, learning the ins and outs as I build and paint up my Death Guard force mostly from stuff from Warhammer Conquest and ebay rescues. In my dream NoVA, I expect I will go 5-1 losing the last game to Richard “Not Even In Your Wildest Dreams” Siegler… instead of the far more likely scenario 0-1-5 in where I tie in a game with Greg.
(Editor’s Note: I contemplated correcting this or telling Beanith that NoVA is 9 Rounds for the top 8 but… nah).

So in this series, expect plenty of hobby progress with lots of painting and conversions, using a lot of the Goonhammer articles for ideas like Project Management and some quasi “Hear Me Out” posts where I ask the other writers for tips and suggestions and maybe some brief battle reports where I get absolutely dumpstered.

Let’s start with what I have:

Lets start with my current pile of Death Guard - Click to expand.

+ HQ +
2 x Lord of Contagion: Manreaper
3 x Lord of Contagion: Plaguereaper (Unbuilt)
2 x Malignant Plaguecaster

+ Troops +
6 sets of Easy Build Plague Marines
2 x Plague Champion Bolt pistol, Plaguesword, Power fist
1 x Plague Champion Plasma pistol, Plaguesword
5 x Plague Marine w/ boltgun
2 x Plague Marines with an Icon of Despair and boltgun
1 x Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Plasma gun
1 x Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Flail of corruption
2 x Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Plague Spewer
12 x Plague Marine w/ boltgun (Unbuilt)
22 x Poxwalkers (12 unbuilt)

+ Elites +
Biologus Putrifier
2 sets of Easy Build Blightlord Terminators
2 x Foul Blightspawn
2 x Noxious Blightbringer
2 x Plague Surgeon

+ Fast Attack +
3 x Foetid Bloat-drone (unbuilt)
4 x Myphitic Blight-haulers (1 unbuilt)

+ Heavy Support +
3 x Plagueburst Crawler

+ Dedicated Transport +
Chaos Rhino

++ Around Total: 3,800pts ++

The plan is to take most of this, some future stuff from Warhammer Conquest, and maybe some cheap second-hand stuff and turn it into a 2000-point army. One that will work at the imaginary NoVA with their missions, maybe some small local tournaments using the ITC rule set, and games with mates generally using CA19 missions.

Thankfully we are joined today by Bair and Senpai Wings who are both cool and good and are filled with tons of competitive ITC/Nova knowledge like some sort of knowledge pinata. So let us bask in their cool and good presence and then knock loose some of their knowledge with the sticks of learning.

Bair plays Death Guard a lot in 40k and has taken them to a couple tourneys, and Senpai James “One_Wing” Grover is Goonhammer’s Strategy Editor, Rulebook Devourer & Elf Enthusiast who has offered to chime in when it comes to dealing with the competitive stuff.

I’d like to give thanks up front to both of these guys for the assist; I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing other than I have lots of green little men that need painting and a rough idea that ITC isn’t referring to Info Tech and Comm from waaaaaaay back in my High School days.

Perhaps we can start off with something simple and make something out of the Easy Build stuff I have? I have a load of the three Easy Build Plague Marines, lets start there and see what we can do with them.

Easy Build Plague Marines

Beanith’s Easy Build Plague Marines

 

I want to start with these guys as I have a lot of them and I like the models. My idea is to take two of the Easy Build Units and with a little bit of work, I should be able to make some quick 5-man units that might be fit for purpose when it comes to ITC/NoVA.

Plague Marines [7 PL, 120pts] Plague Champion with Plague knife, Plasma gun, Power fist
2 x Plague Marine w/ boltgun
2 x Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Blight launcher.

PRO: Right off the bat and to show I did skim the NoVA mission pack, Troop choices can’t be used as Marked for Death in NoVA so these guys should be golden.
CON: 120 points means it can however be Marked for Death in normal ITC, plus it also shows I paid attention to the 2020 ITC updates.

Bair: The only time I take a plasma gun on a sergeant is in a squad with 2 other plasma guns, however rapid firing at 18” does make plasma guns very tasty and having a couple high S high AP shots can be really important sometimes. Plus I very often take power fists on sergeants but they will be the first thing I drop if I’m a little over points only because they’re not as important and we have so little wiggle room when it comes to upgrades and points to begin with.

Beanith: Ok, from that, one potential solution I’ve come up with is to convert the Champion by removing powerfist and adding an arm from my bits box. I’ll probably follow up on this in a future installment showing baby’s first steps in this area and maybe my adventures with some greenstuff too.

Easy Build Blight Terminators

Beanith’s Easy Build Blight Terminators

Ok, now let’s look at the Blightlord Terminators from the Easy to Build Lord Felthius & Tainted Cohort set. I do like terminators, I hear terminators are things, maybe we can do something with these guys?

So the Easy Build Blightlord Terminators come with the following loadout:

  • Lord Felthius with a Manreaper so technically he’s a Lord of Contagion and not as GW describes, a Chaos Lord in Terminator armor.
  • Blightlord Champion: Balesword, Combi-bolter
  • Blightlord Terminator: Plague spewer
  • Blightlord Terminator: Bubotic Axe, Combi-bolter

One problem with these guys is that the Plague spewer Terminator needs another weapon. But that can be fixed with a quick conversion by sticking a sword on his hip and painting it green. The next problem is I only have six of them. Would it be worthwhile tracking down some more models to expand the squad and what type of loadouts should I look at?

Bair: I mean personally a couple of things that a DG army needs is 10 Blightlord Terminators. You want all axes, 2 flails, 2 Launchers, and the rest with combi bolters. It’s like 432 points iirc. Prince can fly over to them to support when they DS or against Orks or other combat armies rushing towards you just deploy them.

Wings: I concur there – Blightlord bombs are one of the best performing Death Guard units and give you a decent mix of flexibility and staying power. You basically do always want the full ten though, as a smaller unit can be too easy to pick off.

Beanith: My current simple solution is to take the Blightlord Champion and congratulate him on his promotion to Chaos Lord in Terminator Armour. The rest can sit in the pile of shame for now until I can get my hands on some more Blightlords to try out Bair’s suggestion.

Now I should try to dazzle you both with my utter brilliance at crafting a competitive army list for the first time.

Beanith's first draft at a Competitive List - Click to Expand.

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Chaos – Death Guard) [57 PL, 8CP, 1,935pts] ++

+ HQ +
Lord of Contagion [7 PL, 115pts]: Plaguereaper
Malignant Plaguecaster [6 PL, 95pts]: 4. Blades of Putrefaction, 5. Putrescent Vitality

+ Troops +

Plague Marines [7 PL, 111pts] . Plague Champion
. . Codex: Plague knife, Plasma gun
. 2x Plague Marine w/ boltgun
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Blight launcher
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Blight launcher

Plague Marines [7 PL, 111pts] . Plague Champion
. . Codex: Plague knife, Plasma gun
. 2x Plague Marine w/ boltgun
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Blight launcher
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Blight launcher

Plague Marines [10 PL, 160pts] . Plague Champion
. . Codex: Boltgun, Plaguesword
. Plague Marine w/ melee weapons: Flail of Corruption
. Plague Marine w/ melee weapons: Flail of Corruption
. Plague Marine w/ melee weapons: Mace of Contagion and bubotic axe
. Plague Marine w/ melee weapons: Bubotic Axe
. Plague Marine w/ melee weapons: Bubotic Axe
. Plague Marine w/ melee weapons: Bubotic Axe

+ Fast Attack +
Foetid Bloat-drone [8 PL, 138pts]: 2x Plaguespitters, Plague probe
Foetid Bloat-drone [8 PL, 138pts]: 2x Plaguespitters, Plague probe

+ Dedicated Transport +
Chaos Rhino [4 PL, 67pts]: Combi-bolter

++ Spearhead Detachment +1CP (Chaos – Death Guard) [33 PL, 1CP, 600pts] ++

+ HQ +
Daemon Prince of Nurgle [9 PL, 180pts]: 6. Arch-Contaminator, Malefic talon, The Suppurating Plate, Warlord, Wings

+ Heavy Support +
Plagueburst Crawler [8 PL, 140pts]: 2x Plaguespitter, Heavy slugger
Plagueburst Crawler [8 PL, 140pts]: 2x Plaguespitter, Heavy slugger
Plagueburst Crawler [8 PL, 140pts]: 2x Plaguespitter, Heavy slugger

++ Vanguard Detachment +1CP (Chaos – Death Guard) [30 PL, 1CP, 463pts] ++

+ HQ +
Chaos Lord in Terminator Armour [6 PL, 110pts]: Combi-plasma, Power sword

+ Elites +
Foul Blightspawn [4 PL, 77pts] Hellforged Contemptor Dreadnought [10 PL, 138pts]: 2x Butcher cannon
Hellforged Contemptor Dreadnought [10 PL, 138pts]: 2x Butcher cannon

++ Total: [120 PL, 9CP, 1,998pts] ++

 

Beanith: Things I need to do/get if I wanted this list to happen: find some 2nd hand Contemptors which I have had my eye on for some time plus maybe some bits to go double lascannon instead, a Daemon Prince and a bunch of axes to bodge up some blight axe wielding Plague Marines. And then some minor modifications on weapon loadouts etc.

I even have a vague plan with this list, it’s to slingshot the rhino filled the CC equipped marines up the board with the Foul Blightspawn and deep strike the Lord of Contagion down near them. Chaos Lord can shepherd the Contemptors and the PBC. PBC can move about and keep the Prince happy? Other troops move to sit on nearby objectives.

Some upcoming Warhammer Conquest issues will soon have Typhus, pox walkers and cultists which will also open up some possible expansion plans there too. I believe there’s also a Tallyman coming as well but he’s at least 2-3 months away if I recall correctly

Bair: Any particular budget you’re working with here cause there’s a few must-haves in a DG army.

Beanith – Budget wise the plan is to try and keep it cheap. I live in Australia and with the prices here, I assume each box gets its own seat on the plane journey over. That said, I do have some fun dreadnoughts like the Levithan, Deredeo and Contemptors in various builds and paint schemes that I could use.

Bair: Ohh shit didn’t realise you were an Aussie, I’m in England so I am a little spoiled. That said, this is the sort of thing I’d look at taking.

Bair's Go To Competitive List - Click to Expand.

++ Battalion Detachment (Chaos – Death Guard) [125 PL, 1,996pts] ++
+ HQ +
Daemon Prince of Nurgle: Arch-Contaminator, Malefic talon, Suppurating Plate, Wings
Malignant Plaguecaster
+ Troops +
7 Plague Marines: Plague Champion; 6 Plague Marine; 2 xBlight launcher.
7 Plague Marines: Plague Champion; 6 Plague Marine; 2 xBlight launcher
17x Poxwalker
+ Elites +
Biologus Putrifier
10 Blightlord Terminators: Blightlord Champion (Bubotic Axe; Combi-bolter); 9 Blightlord Terminator; 7 x Bubotic Axe; 5 x Combi-bolter; 2 x Blight launcher; 2 x Flail of Corruption
Foul Blightspawn
Foul Blightspawn
+ Fast Attack +
3 Myphitic Blight-haulers
+ Heavy Support +
3 x Plagueburst Crawler: 2x Plaguespitter; Heavy slugger
++ Total: [125 PL, 1,996pts] ++

 

Beanith: I like the look of it and it does look pretty simple for me to put something similar together. Just need to find a Prince and two boxes of Blightlords by the look of things.

Bair: Those terminators do the most work for me in any list. They draw a lot of fire power and are super survivable if you make them T6 with -1 to hit. Have the Miasma of Pestilence power (-1 to hit) on the Prince and the caster gets Blades of Putrefaction and Putrescent Vitality (+1S and +1T). At a GT with basically that list minus the Myphitic Blight-haulers cause it was 1750 points, I tabled a guy with 2 Knight Valiants, a Knight Gallant, and loyal 32.

Combine that with the strat to Chuck 7 Grenades with Veterans of the Long War doing mortal wounds on a 5+ and arch Contaminator to re roll all wounds is absolutely brutal. Basically just be careful to save your CP for Vets of the Long War and Blight Bombardment strats. They’re all you really need to CP spend on.

Beanith: I’m hearing a lot of “buy more terminators,” can anyone else hear that? This is some great information Bair, I struggled with stratagems in my first game with these guys wondering what the hell I was supposed to be spending CP on. I was saying to my mate “Do I need to wait for Psychic Awakening for some cool stratagems?”

Bair: Yup there’s not much we really need to spend on, which is nice. Single battalion is enough for us which means we don’t have to worry about HQ or Troop tax. Myphitic Blight-haulers add some needed anti tank at range for us as well and the cover they provide is just an added bonus. Psychic Awakening will be huge though for sure. Might polish off a double battalion list if there’s anything really nice.

And flails on squads go the other way, if I’ve found myself at the end of a list and have 20 points spare I’ll chuck in a flail in each of two units, it might not get used in 7/10 games but when it does get used those 2D3 attacks first round of combat with wounds spilling can really murder something.
That’s why the termies are so good btw when I was taking these to events there was no extra attack on charge etc but now with 6D3 attacks between two terminators with flails you’re looking at average 12 attacks hitting on 3+ re rolling 1’s from the prince cause he’s close by, wounding anything T5 or lower on 3+ re rolling 1’s

Use vets of the long war and you’re really killing infantry. Against Knights it’s then 4+ to wound again re rolling everything to wound cause you got your prince close by with each 5+ doing a mortal wound too thanks to blades of putrefaction which shifts it to a 3+ to wound as well. They’re brutal.

Oh oh oh Cloud of Flies! I forgot to mention this. This stratagem has won me games on its own. For example, one weekend we played all eternal war missions, one where Troops had to hold the objective to score. Played against Drukhari/Eldar soup before the Doom nerf and he killed 2 of my 3 units of troops turn one leaving only 2 plague marines alive in the last unit. I made sure to use Cloud of Flies every turn and he wasn’t able to get to them while I killed his 5 man kabalite units off of objectives turn after turn giving me the win.

The Blightlords were champs too, killed all 3 of the Ravagers and his warlord on their own.

Wings: So looking at Beanith’s list with a critical eye, a few things stand out:

  • You’re going to struggle with heavy armour – you’re reliant on a mix of the PBCs and high-volume shots to remove heavy targets and their reliability at doing that tends to be spotty at best.
  • You’re overpaying a bit on units/models that aren’t bringing enough to the table. The Terminator lord stands out here, at least according to the stated plan – if you want a backline babysitter for the PBCs then a vanilla lord is all you need. I also basically agree that the unit upgrades on the Plague Marines aren’t going to get enough value out.

I’d definitely recommend looking at getting hold of at least a bare bones lord and bare bones sorcerer at some point, because an important part of competitive list building is having access to the cheapest possible solution to any given problem for when you’re trying to shuffle things around and are constrained on points.

For now, I think the terminator lord stays, because you do want to have the option to hang your PBCs back, but in the longer term if that remains the plan on the board, a cheaper character can do the job.

The main place I’d make changes based on what you currently have is to the rolling core. I’m not too keen on the melee Plague Marine squad as I think while they’re theoretically powerful delivering them reliably is just a bit too much work.

I like the bloat drones but feel like they’re not mixing up your offensive profile enough, being another unit that’s best against more horde-like armies. You already have the Contemptors for that, and the PBCs can also double-duty against them pretty well.

Instead, I think we want to try and solve the anti-tank problem by adding in some Blight Haulers. I’m reasonably high on these, as they’re very tough for their cost and in an army already full of hard-to-kill vehicles they maintain target saturation. This list needs something that can either reliably rip a tank apart in melee or throw some d6 damage shots out, and I think they’re the best immediate option. They also provide cover for your plague marines, a nice bonus.

I ended up with:

”Wings’

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Chaos – Death Guard) [63 PL, 932pts] ++

+ HQ +
Lord of Contagion [7 PL, 115pts]: Plaguereaper

Malignant Plaguecaster [6 PL, 95pts]

+ Troops +
Plague Marines [7 PL, 100pts] . Plague Champion
. . Codex: Boltgun, Plague knife
. 2x Plague Marine w/ boltgun
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Blight launcher
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Blight launcher

Plague Marines [7 PL, 100pts] . Plague Champion
. . Codex: Boltgun, Plague knife
. 2x Plague Marine w/ boltgun
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Blight launcher
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Blight launcher

Plague Marines [7 PL, 100pts] . Plague Champion
. . Codex: Boltgun, Plague knife
. 2x Plague Marine w/ boltgun
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Blight launcher
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Blight launcher

+ Fast Attack +
Foetid Bloat-drone [8 PL, 116pts]: Fleshmower, Plague probe

3 x Myphitic Blight-haulers [21 PL, 306pts]

++ Vanguard Detachment +1CP (Chaos – Death Guard) [30 PL, 465pts] ++

+ HQ +
Chaos Lord in Terminator Armour [6 PL, 112pts]: Balesword, Combi-plasma

+ Elites +
Foul Blightspawn [4 PL, 77pts]

Hellforged Contemptor Dreadnought [10 PL, 138pts]: 2x Butcher cannon

Hellforged Contemptor Dreadnought [10 PL, 138pts]: 2x Butcher cannon

++ Spearhead Detachment +1CP (Chaos – Death Guard) [33 PL, 600pts] ++

+ HQ +
Daemon Prince of Nurgle [9 PL, 180pts]: Malefic talon, Wings

+ Heavy Support +

Plagueburst Crawler [8 PL, 140pts]: 2x Plaguespitter, Heavy slugger

Plagueburst Crawler [8 PL, 140pts]: 2x Plaguespitter, Heavy slugger

Plagueburst Crawler [8 PL, 140pts]: 2x Plaguespitter, Heavy slugger

++ Total: [126 PL, 1,997pts] ++

Wings: One final thing that I think you should be looking at is a sneaky trick we showed off in Start Competing: Death Guard. Because Nurgle is a faction keyword, if you have a detachment of three PBCs (who don’t benefit from the Death Guard trait) you can lead them up with a Chaos Space Marine Nurgle Sorcerer and still have a legal detachment. This gives you access to Warptime and Prescience, both very good powers you potentially want around. If you’re planning on chopping up and converting a terminator into a Lord, can you convert him into a Sorcerer instead? I’d straight sway (the costs are the same) a CSM Nurgle Terminator Sorcerer into my list instead of the Lord.

Beanith: Consider me swayed on soup, I’m loving the idea of options to chop and change the list with so it doesn’t get too samey. I’ll have a dig through my bits box and small marines and see if I can kludge something together to make some Chaos Lords and Sorcerers in and out of terminator armor, plus I’ll also add them to my watch lists on the 2nd hand markets as well. I just had a look at GW and the more recent models come on hero rocks which is also slightly tempting.

You certainly have a very good point with struggling with heavy armor, one of the people I play quite regularly is an Ork player who likes to field the Gorka/Morkanauts or lots of the Ork planes, and all the Mek Gunz that could be found Down Under. Having read your review of Saga of the Beast Review: Orks it really hammered home just all the new threats I’ll need learn how to deal with from the Orks (aside from that blasted Relic Shokk Attack Gun that haunts me still).

The Melee Death Guard Marine are something I’m not too attached to, I just like the Flail dude from Space Marine Heroes Series 3 and wanted an excuse to use him. Plus most of the lists that I see using a Melee Squad tend to have them delivered in the Terrax Pattern Termite Assault Drill which is a very expensive chunk of resin so that wont be on the cards for a very long time.I’m probably going to move these guys off the list entirely for now.

 

Conclusion

Ok, so that’s all for this article, I’ve got plenty of homework, lots of ideas bubbling away and more things added to my shopping list. At this stage I am leaning towards Wing’s list just because I generally don’t see a lot of Blightlords on the local second hand market at the moment.

TheChirurgeon’s Note: Also note that a standard Blightlord Terminators box only comes with 3 axes and you’re gonna need 2 extras for your 10-model squad.

A very big thank you to Bair and Senpai One_Wing for helping me in this article, they have been a major help and have given me a lot to think about.

The next in the series will probably be a hobby progress and maybe if I’m smart, I’ll look into the Goonhammer Project Management article to help me keep on top of this series. That, or the siren call of the Wolves will entice me back to the Furry side… awuuuuuuu

 

Current painted status of army

  • Two Squads of Easy Build Plague Marines (6 models)
  • Ten Pox Walkers
  • 3/4 of Easy to Build Lord Felthius & Tainted Cohort (3 models)
  • One Myphitic Blight-hauler

 

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

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