Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Plaguebearers & Chaos Marines- Nurgle Gravy

So, I've been a big fan of Nurgle as long as I've played 40k, and while I wanted to try a Khorne flavored list for a change, Papa Nurgle just calls to me. Having found that Bloodletters are useless, I have to say that somewhere deep down inside there was a part of me that was almost happy. As happy as a bit of me can be after realizing I had just wasted $60 on miniatures that are just plain...

Not Good In Assaults.

This is a bit odd for Khorne as he and his followers are supposed to be the consummate melee fighters. Theirs is the marital prowess to end all martial prowess. That, it seems, is not exactly reflected in their in-game performance.

They're Toughness 3.

They have no grenades.

They're 10 points a piece.

These things make them rather not good. They die en masse as they try to close the gap, and even if they deep strike they'll get cut down by even lowly bolter fire. They're really expensive for their performance, and they simply cannot assault into cover. Believe me, I've seen the results.

Deep strike -> run -> get shot in your opponent's turn -> move -> get shot by overwatch fire -> roll assault distance on 3d6 discarding the highest  -> move in -> get struck first due to no grenades -> maybe kill one or two enemies -> lose combat -> make an instability test -> go pop -> regret wasting hundreds of points on a single squad.

That is unfortunately the "Bloodletter Flow Chart". They're supposed to be an offensive powerhouse, but at Toughness 3 and no ability to dig enemies out of cover they just plain don't cut it.

Which daemons do cut it? Well, in my opinion, Plaguebearers. These fellas have the resilience to warrant their points. Toughness 4, Shrouded, and defensive grenades. Give them a Herald and they also can have Feel no Pain. They're the defensive unit of defensive units. Good luck prying them out of position with a 2+ cover save when they set up camp in a building. Sure they're Slow and Purposeful, but so what? The rule isn't the crippling blow it was last edition. My daemons can't run? Whatever. They're not there to pick fights, they're there to either start the game on an objective or to Deep Strike into position and squat on their location.

Now, this may not be ideal in an all-daemon army, but I'm talking about them in terms of an ally for Chaos Space Marines. Chaos Marine armies have plenty of offensive punch in the forms of things like Havocs, plasma guns, and the universally loved or loathed Heldrake. I can go get you. What I have problems with is grabbing and securing backfield objectives. This role is usually taken up by cultists, and they can be very good at it, but in the end they're really little more than expensive Imperial Guardsmen with less armor and an inferior gun. If they draw any real attention they will die, and they'll do it in a hurry. That or they'll run away. Also in a hurry.

Now, Cultists have one very big thing going for them- they're cheap. 100 points for 20 models with 2 flamers is not too bad a deal.

But what then do Plaguebearers do that outclasses the humble Chaos Cultist? Well, not just the things listed above, but other things that mesh with their allies. They're competent in hand-to-hand combat for one. While they won't go out picking many fights, they really won't be backing away from too many either. Sure, they can be outclassed by things like Terminators, but a lot of stuff is so that's no reason to turn your nose up at them. just rely on your cover to save you, and get ready to try to smack them off the board once they get to you. Better yet, use other assets in your army (remember that plasma I mentioned earlier?) to keep them away from your campsite.

Plaguebearers are also pretty cheap (for a Daemon). Sure, a unit of 20 is almost double the point cost of a Chaos Cultist squad of the same size, but it has massively more resilience. That 2+ cover save goes a very long way toward their survival. Even if they're not in a building (say they're in the woods) they've got a 3+ save, which makes them superior Space Marines (they even get their save against things as extreme as demolisher cannons).

So, what would I do if I were to practice what I preach? I'd re-tweak my army a bit, dropping the Chaos Cultists and either the Chaos Lord or the Sorcerer for a Herald of Nurgle and 20 Plaguebearers. I haven't quite decided which HQ choice to drop, but I'm thinking the Chaos Lord as my army is a bit more of a "hang back and shoot" affair, and the Lord wants to get up in your face, but the Sorcerer is less resilient and a bit unpredictable. It's something that would have to be experimented with. Most likely I'd go with:

Sorcerer (warlord) w/ +2 mastery- 110 pts.

9 Chaos Space Marines w/ 2 plasma guns; Aspiring Champion w/ power sword, melta bombs (10 models)- 190 pts.
9 Chaos Space Marines w/ 2 plasma guns; Aspiring Champion w/ power sword, melta bombs (10 models)- 190 pts.
9 Chaos Space Marines w/ 2 plasma guns; Aspiring Champion w/ power sword, melta bombs (10 models)- 190 pts.
9 Chaos Space Marines w/ 2 plasma guns; Aspiring Champion w/ power sword, melta bombs (10 models)- 190 pts.

Heldrake w/ baleflamer- 170 pts.
Heldrake w/ baleflamer- 170 pts.

4 Havocs w/ 4 autocannons; Aspiring Champion (5 models)- 115 pts.
4 Havocs w/ 4 autocannons; Aspiring Champion (5 models)- 115 pts.
4 Havocs w/ 4 lascannons; Aspiring Champion (5 models)- 155 pts.

Herald of Nurgle w/ Greater Locus of Fecundity- 70 pts.

19 Plaguebearers; Plagueridden (20 models)- 185 pts.

1,850 pts.

I've also played around with the idea of dropping the lascannon Havocs instead of the Chaos Lord, and the idea does have some merit, but I fear 2+ armor saves. This fear is most likely irrational as I have eight plasma gunners in the army, and the Telepathy discipline messes with units in other ways, but that's just my current assessment. I'll have to get some Plaguebearers some time and try this concept out.

...Until then, I'll just keep plugging along with Cultists. 

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