Death Guard: Building Around the Terminus Est Assault Force

An article by and    Competitive Play Gaming Warhammer 40k        0

There’s been a lot of talk about the new Terminus Est Assault Force and whether it’s going to be good competitively. Today Goonhammer Chaos authors Don Hooson and Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones are looking at the army and offering thoughts on how to build around it competitively, and we’ve also interviewed Jason Chevalier about his recent 4-1 10th-place finish at Ratcon 2021 running a Terminus Est Assault Force army.

Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones: There’s been a healthy amount of skepticism around the Terminus Est Assault Force – after all, while the Death Guard aren’t heavily vehicle-dependent, successful monofaction lists have tended to include some as a means of offering ranged support to its footslogging units that are otherwise unable to close large distances quickly or pack much of an anti-tank punch. That said, the Terminus Est army does offer a few key advantages that are worth building around:

  • Typhus – Typhus is normally OK but he really shines in a Terminus Est force, where he can make use of the army’s custom warlord trait to boost his martial prowess and make him more disruptive – note that the aura on Harbinger of Death turns off Objective Secured and prevents actions from enemy units if they have a model with Ld 7 or less within 3″ – not the entire unit. This means that most of the units in the game will be affected, including all those fancy marine units sporting Ld 8 sergeants who leave an Ld 7 model within 3″. Because he boosts Poxwalkers, is a psyker, and gets an extra boost from being in the Terminus Est army, you’ll pretty much always want to bring Typhus along as your first psyker option.
  • Psychic Powers – The Fester Discipline opens up an additional six powers for the Death Guard and they’re pretty solid, but tend to be very situational. Still, given the army restrictions for Death Guard to begin with, you may want to take a Plaguecaster to accompany Typhus anyways, and that means you can pull powers from both disciplines. It’s also worth considering a third psyker given that the VP you’re potentially giving up for Abhor the Witch aren’t nearly so much (personally, I’m a fan of the Daemon Prince). For mortal wound output, Noxious Discharge is the most reliable of the bunch and likely to be the most widely useful, though Accelerated Entropy can also be pretty nasty. Rotwind and Lungrot also have uses, but tend to be much more situational. For more on the Fester discipline powers, check out our recent Hammer of Math on the subject.
  • Possessed – Lacking any real ability to ride in transports anyways, Terminus Est is where Possessed may really shine, since they’re pretty fast and can close distances quickly and you can use the Outbreak Assault rule to drop into Deep Strike reserves (but don’t have to – they’re fast enough without it), protecting them until it’s time to strike and decimate your opponent’s army. Note that you don’t have any ways to give them a bonus to charges, so try to deploy defensively even when you’re teleporting them in. They have a 5+ invulnerable save to boost their durability, and they can ably perform actions. They also count as BUBONIC ASTARTES CORE units, so they give you access to more Poxwalker squads.
  • Poxwalkers – A key part of your strategy will be throwing bodies at your opponents’ key threats, and so running lots of Poxwalkers is going to be something you’ll want to do with your list. It’s not necessarily the only thing you want to do with your list, however – yes, you want lots of Poxwalkers, but they’re not enough on their own to win you games. You’ll need to balance them against other units that can hold ground and remove enemy units. While Rotting Tide can be pretty tempting, don’t get too hung up on it; 3 CP is a lot to spend on a unit of 11+ and it may just not not be something that comes up as useful that often. Instead focus on using Unleash the Horde with them to push them forward – and don’t neglect the extra 3″ of Pile in movement, which can ensure you wrap up valuable targets like tanks and get into position around objectives with an extra 6″ of movement.

Additionally, you’ll want to consider the following:

  • Tallyman – you need a lot of CP to make this army work well and so you’ll almost certainly want a Tallyman, whose ability to roll in each turn’s Command Phase for CP refunds makes him invaluable to the army.
  • Deathshrouds/Blightlords – Poxwalkers are reasonably tough to kill in groups of 20 but can’t dish out much damage. Deathshrouds and Blightlords give you tough units that can hold objectives but clear enemies off them while also giving you access to another unit of Poxwalkers.
  • Who you’re putting into Outbreak Assault – You don’t need to use Outbreak Assault to make a Terminus Est army work, but you should have a plan for how you’ll use Outbreak Assault when the matchup calls for it. Something else to think about is that Outbreak Assault can open up secondaries like Engage on All Fronts and Deploy Scramblers for you, or at least make them easier to accomplish than Strategic Reserves might.

Alright let’s jump into a list.

Plague Company: The Harbingers
Terminus Est Assault Force

HQ: Lord of Virulence [7 PL, -1CP, 140pts]: 3. Hulking Physique, Acidic Malady, Plague Skull of Glothila, Plaguechosen
HQ: Malignant Plaguecaster [5 PL, 95pts]: 3. Plague Wind, 5. Curse of the Leper, Bolt pistol

Troops: Poxwalkers [5 PL, 100pts]: 20x Poxwalker: 20x Improvised weapon
Troops: Poxwalkers [5 PL, 100pts]: 20x Poxwalker: 20x Improvised weapon
Troops: Poxwalkers [5 PL, 100pts]: 20x Poxwalker: 20x Improvised weapon
Troops: Poxwalkers [5 PL, 100pts]: 20x Poxwalker: 20x Improvised weapon
Troops: Poxwalkers [5 PL, 100pts]: 20x Poxwalker: 20x Improvised weapon

EL: Death Guard Possessed [12 PL, 240pts]: 10x Possessed: 10x Horrifying Mutations
EL: Death Guard Possessed [12 PL, 168pts]: 7x Possessed: 7x Horrifying Mutations
EL: Death Guard Possessed [6 PL, 120pts]: 5x Possessed: 5x Horrifying Mutations
EL: Deathshroud Terminators [7 PL, 150pts]: Deathshroud Champion: Plaguespurt gauntlet, 2x Deathshroud Terminator: 2x Manreaper, 2x Plaguespurt gauntlet
EL: Deathshroud Terminators [7 PL, 150pts]: Deathshroud Champion: Plaguespurt gauntlet, 2x Deathshroud Terminator: 2x Manreaper, 2x Plaguespurt gauntlet
EL: Tallyman [4 PL, 70pts]

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Chaos – Death Guard) [20 PL, 365pts] ++

Plague Company: The Harbingers

HQ: Typhus [9 PL, 165pts]: 2. Lungrot, 6. Accelerated Entropy, Harbinger of Death, Shamblerot, Warlord

Troops: Plague Marines [6 PL, 105pts]: Plague Champion: Boltgun, Plague knife, 4x Plague Marine w/ boltgun: 4x Blight grenades, 4x Boltgun, 4x Krak grenades, 4x Plague knife
Troops: Poxwalkers [5 PL, 95pts]: 19x Poxwalker: 19x Improvised weapon

++ Total: [105 PL, 8CP, 1,998pts] ++

Standout Features

  • Typhus as Warlord, sporting two powers from the Fester Discipline
  • Three squads of Possessed to dash across the table and mangle enemy units
  • A Lord of Virulence + 2-unit Deathshroud bomb to deep strike onto the table
  • A Tallyman to generate extra CP

We sat down with Jason, who was happy to share his thoughts on running the list.

Q. What’s your plan when playing the terminus Est Assault Force, and what thought went into building the army?

Ironically, I built this list before I knew anything about Terminus Est – it was just a foot-heavy list. Originally I built it with the Inexorable as my plague company so I could try to stop people from charging into me by using the Ferric Miasma Stratagem. When I was building the list I wanted as many Poxwalkers as I could fit, with Typhus for buffs, a Plaguecaster for some mortal wounds output, and Deathshrouds for deep strikes with my Lord of Virulence. From there I put in the Possessed as a faster threat. They worked out well because everyone left them alone even when I didn’t hide them. Finally the squad of 5 plague marines is there to deep strike and Deploy Scramblers when I had no better secondary options.

The plan was to just push everything up as fast as I could! My biggest challenge during the tournament ended up being that I only went first once the entire event, but with dense terrain it was easy to hide a lot of my army. Then on turn 2 I’d bring in one unit of Deathshrouds to act as a distraction, either dropping them on an objective or in position to hit a key target if they can make the charge. But even if they don’t make it, they’re a unit that needs to be dealt with.

As far as the Terminus Est army abilities, I didn’t end up using the Rotting Tide Stratagem much – I only used it once and didn’t really need it. However I did end up using Unleash the Horde in every game – being able move a unit of Poxwalkers an extra 3″ per turn is huge especially when you have The Dead Walk Again Stratagem to bring back Poxwalkers in the Command phase and push even closer to an enemy or objective. For psychic powers I gave Typhus the Fester discipline with Lungrot and Accelerated Entropy. I didn’t end up using Lungrot much but Accelerated Entropy would have been better had I played against different armies. Unleash the Horde ended up being the biggest value add from the Army of Renown rules.

Q. What was your plan for dealing with vehicles?

Basically just wrap them up and use the mortal wounds Stratagem with Poxwalkers (Mutagenic Strain) or that’s where my Possesed went. I had characters and Deathshroud that could have probably taken them but it was rarely a problem… I played against list with 3 Redemptors which was a struggle but my game 3 was probably my biggest stress facing a T’au gunline. Thanks to good terrain however I was able to spend a lot of time out of line of sight, so my opponent had minimal shooting options until I was in range to get into combat. Getting the plague skull relic into range can really turn a game – it’s swingy but it can just evaporate something big in a single turn. Like a Coldstar Commander.

Q. What Secondaries did you choose when playing this army?

Obviously the secondary picks changed from game to game but in this case the tournament had its own forced secondary for every game, which was really good and cut down on the choices. I choose Spread the Sickness in every game and while I never maxed it out I usually scored a minimum of 9 points. After that I usually picked Scramblers or Engage on All Fronts. There were a few games where I took Thin Their Ranks.

Q. What did you put into deep strike and what did you leave on the table?

I always put the Lord of Virulence and Deathshrouds into Deep Strike (Teleport) reserves. they are just so difficult to deal with and need to be ready for them. The Lord of Virulence was running the Plague Skull relic with the Transhuman (Hulking Physique) so he was a very big threat and difficult to bring down. In 2 games I deep struck a unit of poxwalkers and I deep struck (via Outbreak Assault) my unit of 5 Plague marines in a few games so they could Deploy Scramblers.

Everything else started on the table and I just always ended up Advancing with the units my turn one apart from the units I needed to do actions I ended up deploying the Possessed on the table every game – all that movement makes them the army’s fastest threat and all I wanted was for my opponents to look at my army and wonder “what the hell do I shoot first?” Believe it or not, the Possessed were rarely the first target and opponents would waste a lot of time trying to take down the large blobs of T4 Poxwalkers.

Q. You won against Dark Angels, then narrowly lost to Necrons. What was going on there?

My Dark Angels opponent was actually a top bloke and he ended up having the first turn but fortunately I was actually able to hide most of my army so I ended up losing very little. After that the first thing I aimed for was to kill his Deathwing Knights. That’s where mixing the Mutant Strain Stratagem with The Wrathful Dead Harbingers’ Stratagem on Poxwalkers paid off – you re-roll hit rolls and on 6s to hit you do a mortal wound in addition to the normal damage. Sure, 1s to hit end up doing mortals to your Poxies but that’s not the worst considering you have a FNP roll and you get walkers back for every infantry kill. And really, what’s losing 25-50 points of Poxwalkers to kill a unit of Deathwing Knights?

Apart from that it was honestly the swarm of bodies and the ridiculous amount of attacks that helped me take that game.

My loss to Necrons on the other hand had a little to do with me not understanding the forced secondary choice which involved putting warpstones onto objectives and holding those objectives at the end of the game. Also, my opponent pushed all his scarabs into my face turn one I spent two full turns trying to fight my way out of my deployment zone and then it took so much to punch through all of that with metal bodies just popping back up everywhere. Ultimately my opponent pushing and and restricting my first two turns of movement is what I feel lost me that game.

Q. What would you change next time around if you were running the list again?

I think if I was to play the list again I would get rid of Typhus, a unit of Poxwalkers, and the unit of 5 Possessed. I’d trim back to just a single Battalion detachment and have the two units of Possessed at max size (10 models) and maybe put in a unit of Blightlords to try and give myself a big block to either deep strike or walk up the board with and buff them so I actually have a little bit of shooting. Or maybe even put in a unit or two of Chaos Spawn instead just to have more fast threats that an opponent has to deal with. When it comes to building lists I like to have units that make people say “I need to deal with those…” in a list like this it’s super important to have multiple threats like that and with Spawn and Possessed you can make up for the slow movement speed on Poxwalkers. So I’d add a few more fast units that have decent output, helping me cover more ground so I can charge things earlier and really make up for that lack of movement with the hordes.

 

Credit: Charlie A.

Credit: Charlie A

Don Hooson’s Thoughts

Don: The Terminus Est Assault Force is many things. A Poxwalker horde, it is not. You can go hard on the Poxwalkers and bring 160 of them and that will get you 50 points minimum every game with no need to interact with your opponent. If you go hard on the Poxwalkers though, you will be focusing on something other than the true power of this Army of Renown. Outbreak Assault manipulates strategic reserves to be a potentially game-winning effect. As early as turn 2 you can deploy units on your opponent’s board edge if you want to. This type of change benefits the slow units of the Death Guard greatly. And the unit that benefits the most is likely Plague Marines. For 5 CP you can have 30 plague marines and 10 poxwalkers be a looming threat that will make your opponent make bad decisions.

The Fester Discipline has 2 diamonds in the rough: Rotwind can destroy the damage output of some armies – think of all the AP-2 weapons you face. Imagine all of that becoming AP0. Accelerated Entropy is the situational crazy good one – it’s Warp Charge 7 and has you pick a visible enemy model within 12″. Both players then roll a D6 and add their Toughness and if you beat their result, they take 3 mortal wounds, or 3+D3 if you roll double their result. This is basically a targeted 3-wound smite that has the potential to do 3+D3. It is best utilized with a Daemon Prince with his T6 – and note that this can be easily improved to T7 with the Rotten Constitution Warlord Trait and stacks with the Nurgle’s Gift contagion that reduces the Toughness of nearby units. A space marine in Contagion Range bites the big one if they roll a 1 and the Prince rolls a 2 or if the SM rolls a 2 and you roll a 4. Just think: On average, the big version of this power murders any Space Marine character short of a primaris captain.

The relics are not terribly impressive. The most potent one is Filth Censors – The +6″ on psychic powers can be extremely useful as it allows you to spread out and be more effective. The only Stratagem I am a large fan of is Unleash the Horde. Using this Stratagem requires a very certain build to make use of properly. It is no secret that I love our vehicles and find this Army of Renown to be a bit off-putting because of its restrictions, but it can definitely do well.

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Don’s Terminus Est Assault Force List

++ Battalion Detachment 0CP (Chaos – Death Guard) [50 PL, 1,010pts] ++

Plague Company: The Harbingers

HQ: Malignant Plaguecaster [5 PL, 95pts] Gift of Plagues, Miasma of Pestilence
HQ: Typhus [9 PL, 165pts]: Shamblerot, Warlord,  Curse of the Leper, Plaguewind

Troops: Plague Marines [6 PL, 125pts]: Plague Champion: Boltgun, Plague knife, Plague Marine w/ blight launcher, 2x Plague Marine w/ boltgun, Plague Marine w/Flail of Corruption
Troops: Plague Marines [6 PL, 125pts]: Plague Champion: Boltgun, Plague knife, Plague Marine w/ blight launcher, 2x Plague Marine w/ boltgun, Plague Marine w/Flail of Corruption
Troops: Plague Marines [6 PL, 125pts]: Plague Champion: Boltgun, Plague knife, Plague Marine w/ blight launcher, 2x Plague Marine w/ boltgun, Plague Marine w/Flail of Corruption
Troops: Plague Marines [6 PL, 125pts]: Plague Champion: Boltgun, Plague knife, Plague Marine w/ blight launcher, 2x Plague Marine w/ boltgun, Plague Marine w/Flail of Corruption
Troops: Plague Marines [6 PL, 125pts]: Plague Champion: Boltgun, Plague knife, Plague Marine w/ blight launcher, 2x Plague Marine w/ boltgun, Plague Marine w/Flail of Corruption
Troops: Plague Marines [6 PL, 125pts]: Plague Champion: Boltgun, Plague knife, Plague Marine w/ blight launcher, 2x Plague Marine w/ boltgun, Plague Marine w/Flail of Corruption

++ Battalion Detachment -3CP (Chaos – Death Guard) [49 PL, 8CP, 985pts] ++

Plague Company: The Harbingers

HQ: Malignant Plaguecaster [5 PL, 95pts] Accelerated Entropy,  Noxious Discharge, Filth Censers
HQ: Malignant Plaguecaster [5 PL, 95pts] Rotwind, Lungrot

Troops: Plague Marines [6 PL, 125pts]: Plague Champion: Boltgun, Plague knife, Plague Marine w/ blight launcher, 2x Plague Marine w/ boltgun, Plague Marine w/Flail of Corruption
Troops: Plague Marines [6 PL, 125pts]: Plague Champion: Boltgun, Plague knife, Plague Marine w/ blight launcher, 2x Plague Marine w/ boltgun, Plague Marine w/Flail of Corruption
Troops: Plague Marines [6 PL, 125pts]: Plague Champion: Boltgun, Plague knife, Plague Marine w/ blight launcher, 2x Plague Marine w/ boltgun, Plague Marine w/Flail of Corruption
Troops: Plague Marines [6 PL, 125pts]: Plague Champion: Boltgun, Plague knife, Plague Marine w/ blight launcher, 2x Plague Marine w/ boltgun, Plague Marine w/Flail of Corruption
Troops: Plague Marines [6 PL, 125pts]: Plague Champion: Boltgun, Plague knife, Plague Marine w/ blight launcher, 2x Plague Marine w/ boltgun, Plague Marine w/Flail of Corruption
Troops: Poxwalkers x20 [5 PL, 100pts]

EL: Tallyman, Plaguechosen: Arch-Contaminator

++ Total: [99 PL, 7CP, 1,995pts] ++

Standout Features

  • Lots and lots of Plague Marines
  • Four Psykers who can spit out a ton of mortal wounds

This list focuses on Plague Marines being amazing all-rounders and takes 60 of them.

How do you handle vehicles?  Blight Launchers, Arch Contaminator, Plague Knives, Flails of Corruption, and a plethora of psychic powers mean that most armies melt if they get close, regardless of their Toughness.

That wraps up our look at the Terminus Est Assault Force, but stay tuned in future weeks – we’re likely to see someone succeed with a Death Guard foot horde before too long and then James “One_Wing” Grover will be forced to cover that in his weekly “Competitive Innovations in 9th” column. In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.