The Tactics Shaman: Making Maggotkin Work

Another reader question this week:

We’ve seen updates to the Disciples of Tzeentch and Hedonites now, but what about the other two gods? I’m starting a Maggotkin of Nurgle army and thinking about how I should build it. What should I be thinking about as I build my army, and is there anything I can do to compete?

The Maggotkin of Nurgle may seem neglected but they’ve had a little bit of life breathed into them with the release of the 2020 General’s Handbook several key reductions in point costs. The first to note is the drop in cost for for Blightkings. The reason why this is a big deal is Blightkings have so many wounds per model – being 140 points for 21 wounds (4 wounds per model, champion gets +1)  on a 4+ save is really solid. Now that they’ve gone down in points cost, you can have over 180 wounds for 1,260 points. And that is just your battleline. And they can fit inside a battalion that gives them a pip of rend. This leaves you with 700 more points of heroes or whatever else you may want.

The Wurmspat – Credit: RichyP

Great Unclean Ones and Glottkin got cheaper as well, so you have some O.K.- monsters to work with; the GUO is good for casting and speed for your army if you take the bell, while Glottkin give a unit +1 wound and +1 attack through command abilities and spells

If you combine these point drops for the Maggotkin battleline and the Great Unclean One, it’s easy to see what people have been having success again with the Thricefold Befoulment Battalion, which runs three Great Unclean Ones (of any flavor – named, exalted, or generic). The Thricefold Befoulment buffs their innate spell, Plague Wind, for more damage and healing as long as they’re hanging out near each other on the table.

This hasn’t been the only change recently. The release of the Chaos supplement Wrath of the Everchosen, Nurgle has gained four new sub-factions to work with: One centered around Blightkings, one for Pusgoyle Blightlords, and the other two for daemons. None of them are an auto-include, so if you like the command traits and relics from the battletome, there’s no reason not to do that. You at least have a few more options available to you when building.

Another Maggotkin of Nurgle-adjacent update comes through the Slaves to Darkness battletome and the Plaguetouched Warband battalion. This battalion can be used in either Slaves to Darkness or Nurgle alliances, which makes it a pretty versatile battalion. Much of the recent success of non-Tzeentch Chaos armies has been thanks to this battalion in the Slaves to Darkness sub-faction Knights of the Empty Throne. This faction places a particular focus on Varanguard, making them Heroes and occupying the Leader battlefield role and grants them some unique command traits and relics. So while you wouldn’t be using the Maggotkin allegiance or book if you went this route, you would be playing a “Nurgle” army – it really just depends on your definition of how “Nurgle” you want to be and what you want to build.

One last idea that I’ve been mulling over for a while is using the Maggotkin allegiance to use the Nurgle magic applied to Beasts of Chaos using the Pestilent Throng Beast of Chaos battalion – like the Plaguetouched, this is both a Nurgle and a Beastmen battalion, so it’s interchangeable. Beasts of Chaos have been struggling for a while but there are a few reasons I’ve looked at this:

  • The Nurgle wizards you have access to are not particularly reliable, especially in the current “Haves and Have Nots” meta of magic dominance where, unfortunately, Maggotkin definitely fall into the “Have Nots” category. Their saving grace comes when using the spells to buff units – Beasts of Chaos in particular.
  • Beasts of Chaos are already really fast, as many of them have built in Run & Charge rules, removing the need for the Feculent Gnarlmaw to be in the middle of the board. By utilizing the ton of other speed buffs available to them, your “have-not” wizards can sit outside Dispel range of the opponent’s wizards and buff the beasts and then you can launch them all the way across the table. Like little beastmen-shaped machine guns.

The Primary spells you’re looking for here are Blades of Putrefaction and Fleshy Abundance. Blades gives you mortal wounds on 6+ to hit, and units like Bestigor, Ungor Raiders, and Centigor all come with built-in +1s to hit, and/or rerolls to hit and a metric ton of attacks. Centigor can, notably, have at least 6 attacks a model with a built in +1 to hit, and with a movement value of almost 30” before charging with another +1 to pile-ins, should they make it. This can make for some pretty nasty combinations.

The problem I’ve run into with this specific list is that the casting is far too unreliable, and if you don’t get it off they will hit like a pillow against anything with 3+/4+ armor.

Credit: Liebot – Insta

If you’re looking for consistency, there are some build directions you can focus on currently:

Putrid Blightkings: Just take a whole bunch of them, as many as you feel like painting. Follow this up with at least one of each of their support heroes: Gutrot Spume, Harbinger of Decay, Lord of Blights and Lord of Plagues. You won’t necessarily use them every time, but some are required for battalions. Gutrot gives you Outflank capabilities, Harbinger gives you a Feel No Pain bubble.

Great Unclean Ones: Grabbing three of these is not only perfectly viable, but a legitimate strategy. The exalted one from Forge World is an option if you wish as well – he’s a little tankier, might hit a little harder, can take relics and command traits and all that, so not bad. If you choose to go this route, you can either go Plaguebearer battleline or Blightkings. It’s mostly just personal preference.

Slaves to Darkness: If you give them the Nurgle Mark of Chaos, they gain the Nurgle keyword and can be valid in your lists. Units worth looking at include: Varanguard, Marauders, Warriors, Sorcerer Lords, Chaos Lord on Foot and maybe Karkaradrak Lords.

If you are even more comfortable breaking away from the Maggotkin book, you can even go down the Plaguetouched warband in the new Morathi supplement for Slaves to Darkness: Play as Idolators, and mark your Chariot Lord as Nurgle, and then take a lot of the Warcry warband units. The Notable Warbands to look at here are Untamed beasts, Iron Golems, and Splintered Fang units. Since they’re all marked as Nurgle, your opponent will take mortal wounds for having the audacity to try and punch you in combat. It’s pretty great, definitely a good time. This is definitely stretching the definition of a Nurgle list however – you wouldn’t be using anything from the actual Maggotkin of Nurgle list.

Skaven: This is a weird one, and since Plaguemonks had their warscroll changed, it’s something we’ve seen far less often. You are still able to bring any Clan Pestilens Skaven units because they share the Nurgle keyword. My favorite trick for this allegiance loophole is taking the Verminlord Corruptor and Warplightning Vortex. Since they are still a Skaven Wizard, they can cast the vortex. And who doesn’t like casting the Warplightning Vortex? (Maybe your opponent. But… that’s a them problem.)

And, if you’re really fancy, there’s Archaon the Everchosen. You probably can’t go wrong having one as a fallback unit “ just in case” since he works in just about all mono-god Chaos armies (as he’s sporting each of their keywords) in addition to Slaves to Darkness.

Allied Units: you also may want to keep in mind Be’Lakor, as he’s just an amazing 240 points to spend to lock down your opponents key unit for a turn or 2.
Glutos from the new Slaanesh book is worth considering, for his bubble of -1 to hit on an army. That can put them to -2/-3 on its own and then make them reroll 6’s to hit you with the Witherstave relic, making you almost immune to attacks in Close combat.
A local buddy of mine has also been an advocate of taking allied Khorne Skullcannons, to give you some shooting, both in the shooting phase, and in the combat phase if the skullcannon gets stuck in an unfortunate position. For an army whose primary output is close combat, giving yourself some range threats is not a bad option.

I hope this helps! If you want help or feedback on a list or want to deep-dive the faction, builds or best practices once you’ve developed the army further, feel free to reach out to me on my Patreon

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