ITC Death Guard Test Game: Go Small or Go Home.

So most of my ITC games with Mortarion have been pretty bad. Add in the fact that everything seems a little more destructive, and he’s becoming more and more of a liability. Especially in scoring systems that allow you to focus fire him for a fairly easy cap of 4 Secondary scoring points.

After several games I came to the conclusion that at 1750 points, his best bet at survival in a pure Death Guard army is his Death Shroud body guard. But that’s an extra 180 points of slow moving Terminators that (thanks to the new FAQ) also can’t deep strike properly to protect him until Turn 2. It also turns out 1750 is the new 2000 points. By that I mean as I write this it’s been 24 hours since Games Workshop announced their Grand Tournaments would all feature 1750 point lists. But that’s another article for another day…

Mort + Bodyguard1

Mortarion and the Death Shroud have hit the road to start a new boy band called: “I give up too many points and the Inefficiencies”. Just rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?

Back to ITC Death Guard I’ve come to the humbling conclusion the current meta has put a 470 point model like Mortarion on difficult ground. Cheap, spammy, ObSec, recyclable… these are the key words some of the most powerful units in 40K, and none of them describe Mortarion.


So in this list I decided it was time to give a new concept a try. While I understand the common Plaguemarine doesn’t see a lot of ‘top’ level play, I’m trying to crowbar them in. Especially since Games Workshop went too far in their attempt at curbing Poxwalker spam and really hurt their viability for regular players like me and most everyone else.

With that in mind I kept my Nurgle Daemon element, and went ahead to take on an army which pasted me last game: Astra Militarum! This time my opponent brought a Hellhammer Super Heavy.

So let’s quickly dive into the deployment pictures:

DG Deploy

Death Guard stink up the town centre, and Nurglings crowd the ruins.

Excuse the partially painted stuff… I’m still making a lot of decisions on the go and using more and more efficient units as I consider dropping Mortarion and Deathshroud.

I’m circling everything with my “Arch-Contaminator” Daemon Prince (he’s fallen over and partially green behind those pipes). He also has Warp Time (Index selection) to keep this stinky moshpit moving full speed ahead.


AM Deploy

Imperial Guard Deployment: Defensive pattern “Not in the Face!” AKA stand back and shoot you to smithereens.

The Astra stand firm putting their cheap spammy wall of fresh recruits out front to enjoy their first battle in their young, 11 hour, careers.

We rolled for Frontline Assault (long board edge deployment with an 18″ gap in the middle).

As per my last 10 games, I did lose the roll to go first, BUT I seized the initiative! Honestly I think ITC is good for considering going second, but this is the first time in all my test games that I have gone first (about 10 or so games with Death Guard).

This ITC scenario “Cut to the Heart”, features 3 Objectives. My opponent’s objectives is in that upper right ruin, and it’s squatted on by 487,082 Guardsman. This should be fun..

The mid objective is squatted on by my Nurglings. My objective is fairly high up in my zone.

The Game Turn Summaries:

  • My turn is full of advance moves, and I get off a first turn charge with a Bloat Drone. My shooting is largely ineffective. I kill maybe 15 conscripts in total but they don’t break due to Insane Bravery. Not a great start but at least I got a Primary point by owning an objective.
  • As usual with my games, this is where things get weird. I’m terrified at all the guns he’s got, but my resilient saves are amazing. I end up with some wounded models, and his Conscripts retreat, “Get Back in the Fight” and rip into me pretty hard. Amazingly the Hellhammer Super Heavy opens fire on the 2 Foetid Bloatdrones that are now in his zone (both successfully assaulted) and could not kill either, though one is down to 4 wounds.
  • At the end of the Game Turn (Battle Round) neither of us have lost a unit, but I go up with “Line Breaker”, Kill more and Hold More for a 3-1 slight edge.
Bloat drone challengeGRoup1

No soap required, we will bathe in the blood of your fresh recruits!

  • My two flamer Bloatdrones are the stars here. They are a new addition with the dropping of Mortarion.
  • My next turn is all about getting stuck in deep but I make some critical errors and some of this is intentional as I need to know if I can hang with a Super Heavy in this list without Mortarion.
  • My Warlord DP uses Warp Time to smash into the side of 2 Basilisks. I am surprised, but I hardly dent one of the two.
  • The rest of my army continues to advance, with Nurglings mostly holding the line. I advance Cultists and Poxwalkers to a ‘dead’ area of the map I feel will come into play later…
  • Psyhic phase (as usual) is a complete bust: Astra Psykers deny: Flesh Abundance (to heal a Bloat Drone) and Pestilent Vitality(?): A nurgle psychic power +1 to wound.
  • I get more units into CC, but my flames can only kill a few Astra Conscripts, and I get two Astra Hellhounds stuck in CC with my second Bloat drone. I can’t kill anything with the conscripts in cover. He is making a LOT of ruin saves on fleshbag recruits!
Initial line break with DP goes poorly

My Daemon Prince drunkely stumbles into a few Basilisks and tickles them.

  • His turn and the Ogryns are complete beasts! He clears out some chaff and lets the over grown simpletons stumble into my Nurgle Daemon Prince (in red, upper left side of picture). They hit hard! They get off a +1 to save from the Primaris Psyker. Wow talk about resilient, and great value.  They take 4 wounds off the Daemon prince! I think I killed 1 back!
  • The strange is starting to become ‘typical’; I continue to have trouble killing anything, but he moves his Basilisks out of my lethargic Daemon Princes close combat range, and commences a full pummeling on both my Daemon Princes, and the Rhino and the Bloat Drones…. One thing dies (a squad of Nurglings). But make no mistake, I am hemorrhaging wounds everywhere now.
  • He decides to take the Hellhammer and smash into my Warlord Daemon Prince using an Astra Strategem… somehow I survive all of this.
Trying to get through the junk

If you got ’em, light ’em up…

  • Bloat Drones (with fly) land on ruins’ second floor and commence spraying. I finally kill one squad of Vets (a lascannon team). My Daemon Prince Warlord retreats to get in a good aura position with Arch Contaminator.
  • Arch Contaminator is huge, but my Psychic phase continues to suck; Fleshy Abundance is shut down again, I fail 1 power from the Plague Caster (he and his squad got out of their Rhino this turn, and the Rhino retreated)
  • One of the Plague Burst Crawlers finally has 4 Wounds on a Flame tank! He saves all 5. The amount of 5+ saves this guy made were… well disgustingly resilient.
  • My Nurgle Daemon Prince with the Sword can’t do anything. He saves it all… I can’t take this anymore… I want to be as tough as IG!
  • This is where things take a big turn though:
Biologus time

Biologus Putrifier has entered the building… start flinging poo!

  • I take a huge risk to tip the game. Sure his Hellhammer Super Heavy has failed to do a lot of damage, but it fires a LOT of shots. I’m no Rocket Surgeon but I recognize luck when I see it… I am on borrowed time since most of my vehicles are on 2-4 wounds.
  • Biolgus Putrifier hands out some real stinky vials to the Plaguemarines, and with the assistance of some amazing rolling, I almost destroy the Hellhammer with Blight Grenades.
  • The Foul Blightspawn proudly pulls the trigger on his toilet cannon and blows up the Hellhammer. (Now if only I took that as a secondary!)
  • I think my opponent is honestly as surprised as I am. But the game changers continue and the mighty Orgyn finally go down. One Hellhound goes down, and the threats to my severely damaged army has some breathing space. My cultists hit the Basilisks in CC purely to tie them up.

On that note my opponent concedes. We both experimented with a lot of units. I don’t think this was a ‘clean’ victory for the Death Guard as I look around the board I see a Daemon Prince with 2 wounds, my Warlord is down to 3; my Rhino has 2, the Bloat Drones are down to 2 and 4 wounds each. Lots of Nurglings are down to a wound.

I would say this was a very weird game in that we both had so much trouble damaging the other guy. And that’s because both of us rolled stellar dice for saves (in my case Disgustingly Resilient was super lucky for me.)



  • I love Mortarion, but does this prove he makes my list worse at 1750?? He most assuredly would have been dead in Turn 1 except I have to confess, this is the first time I’ve gone first. This is also the first time I got Warp Time off in T1.
  • Thanks to Foul Blightspawn (I’ve always loved this guy), Biologus and a combination of multiple overlapping auras, I probably had my best game with Plague Marines… ever. Was it luck? Probably. But it doesn’t change the results!
  • Foetid Bloat drones: Oh how I’ve missed you. They have been a staple in my lists for my last… I’m going to say 20-30 games. I think them and the Plagueburst Crawlers keep Death Guard ‘mildly’ competitive in an era where it’s not very competitive to be a marine player. (Don’t forget I write this after many nerfs have come down.)
  • Nurgle Daemons. This is new to me. I realize I’m almost forced to take at least some aspect of these guys if I want to continue playing Death Guard. I’m not saying it’s mandatory, but it is a very good synergy.

So thank you for reading this. I am still testing other ITC armies, but the tournament is about 10 days away!

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