Prot’s ITC Death Guard Part III: In Depth Analysis.
A fair amount of test games have come and gone so I felt it was time to do an update as I head into the weekend of the tournament.
Once again if you’ve been following you know this is a 1750 ITC tilt, and it does not use ITC’s default rule of treating all ground floor terrain (ruins) as line of sight blocking. I find this very interesting because of my experiments.
At this point I felt the urge to go into what I really don’t like about ITC, but I soon realized this isn’t really what’s prompting me to do this update. I want to keep it more focused on what’s working and what’s not.
First off I’ve accepted the fact Death Guard specifically is not a real contender in this level of event, and the ITC format. Not against the top of the field anyway. It’s been a long time since that was true (going over the last 6 months worth of data), and I’ve just accepted that. But it’s my army. It’s a very colourful, thematic, and well designed army by GW (not that these are great reasons to play an army in an ITC event to be honest.)
So with that in mind I’ve probably played another 5-6 games in between mad painting sessions and trying to make decisions!
I’d like to focus in on the games against strong competition for me and my Death Guard. These have been frustrating match ups to say the least. This would include the games against Astra Militarum, and Dark Eldar.
I think these are going to be two top tier armies for a loooong time. I think cheap tanks re-rolling so often, with access to cheap chaff that won’t run is still extremely potent.
When it came to my Death Guard the problem is two fold: 1 Making it to the opponent, 2 having enough survivability to complete #1.
My first 2-3 games using Mortarion were a disaster. Top armies are well prepared for a ‘super heavy’ type unit, and let’s be honest Mortarion is too expensive, too exposed, and needs a LOT of support to work.
“Mortarion”? or…. “Motharion”?
Like a moth to the flame, so is the existence of Mortarion. Again I pull out Mortarion; although I’ve had decent success with him, too much of the list is geared around his lively hood.
In the last half dozen games I put the Deathshroud body guard on the field with him, and I recommend you do the same. Without Turn 1, and depending on your opponent, he’s exceptionally easy to kill and in ITC format he’s an auto 4 points. Be aware you instantly blow hundreds of points to just help Mort stay alive, and you risk surrendering a lot of ITC points in the process… just for one guy who is always capable of being targeted and really needs to be in close to have any real effect.
The “final” Mortarion ITC test game?
In the past 3 or so games I used Mortarion in my 1750 list with a basic Nurgle Daemon Detachment. The advantages this gives you can largely be summed up as: Daemon synergy: Mort is daemon. Daemons are Daemons. The auras therefore overlap nicely, the psychic powers overlap nicely. And you get get 5 more Command Points with the Battalion.
The negatives of doing this can be summed up as: a small Battalion of of Nurgle Daemons is a force multiplier. But as a Battalion they will largely be unable to deal significant damage. This has to come from somewhere else in your list.
So my conclusion of those test games (remember this is 1750 points) is the Daemon Detachment does not provide significant damage to mitigate the (early) loss of Mortarion. The Death Guard Detachment is largely left carrying the ball for the team and I’m afraid there aren’t enough points on the board to pull this off at this level of play.
My Mortarion 2.0 list is something I bounced between playing him, and not playing him in my ITC test games. So in this version I contacted my biggest, problematic match up: Mr. Astra Parking Lot for a game.
In this version Mortarion is missing some Command Points (via the Nurgle Detachment) and that Daemon Synergy, and he gained: A rhino for the Plaguemarines and the Biolgus Putrifier, and a Bloat Drone with dual flamers. (And I think one or two more Plaguemarines). That’s essentially what you get for the Nurgle Detachment.
Long story short: One or two lascannons get passed the might Deathshroud body guard, and the results are catastrophic. Mortarion loses 15 wounds in Turn 1, and the Body guard are all dead. One of the Plagueburst crawlers is half dead, and I lose some Cultists. So here we have 470 point Mort, 180 bodyguard massively hurt in T1. Mort can’t move that far. The Daemon Prince rolls a 10 for his Warp Time Psychic test, and it is canceled on a 12(!) by the heinous Imperial Guard psyker, and things have officially gone down hill.
Thirty Cultists cannot be cleared out by my three remaining vehicles which means Mortarion will do nothing yet again, and dies in T2. (This makes 6 games where Mortarion has died without causing a single wound.)
Conclusion: Mortarion is over priced, too easy to kill, and requires too much dedication; too many thing have to go perfect for him to make a difference in the cold, hard future of 40K. (At least in this format) Essentially you need First turn, Psychic tests going off, and some strong bodyguard luck to absorb a lot of stuff (and trust me with the current way Poison works, you need to spend points on the bodyguard. It’s an instant trainwreck for Mort in that matchup, and you can add Deathwatch to that nightmare.)
A Life without Mothra…er Mortarion:
For starters removing Mortarion means removing an additoinal 180 points in Deathshroud. Sadly this makes the army much more threatening in a different way. You’ll have multiple threats, more choices, better table coverage, and a stronger mix of offensive weapons.
My list gets better, but this means another 5 or 6 games were had and eventually the non-Mothra list makes it back to the nemesis of Astra Militarum.
I get a kick out of people that say Conscripts are dead. Do you know how annoying a 30 man , unbreakable squad is that can be buffed? The first turn is so important in this match up I can’t explain how hard it is to come back from facing this kind of list when you go second.
In 3 of my test games, I go second (believe it or not in 2 of those games my opponent steals the initiative. I guess it’s true… Death Guard are uninitiated?)
Hidden to the side of this picture is two lascannon team vet squads, a squad of Bullgryn (wow are these guys sick for their cost) and a Manticore.
His Psykers give the superheavy Hellhammer a 2+ save I can’t deny. And we’re off to a lovely start…
The final game in point form:
- I take a ton of shooting, one Plague Burst Crawler is destroyed. I take a lot of wounds, but the majority of my Death Guard are still intact… damaged, but intact.
- 2 Foetid Bloat Drones, and the remaining Plaguebuest Crawler cannot clear enough of the 30 man Conscript squad to kill them. I send in 2 squads of Nurglings. They can’t quite do it either.
- My Daemon Prince gets off Warp Time on the Flesh Mower Bloat Drone. It skims over the conscripts and smacks into a squad of 3 Bullgryn. The Bullgryn would be beasts as usual (such a strong unit). In the end the Bullgryn would tank everything the Mower drone could throw at them and they would kill the drone.
- I take points in the “hold more” category, but the Astra would take all the “kill more” category.
- I keep using “Cloud of Flies” on my Poxwalker (10 man) squad to keep my home objectives safe.
- I hold mid table with Nurglings, and he can’t advance yet.
- I barely do any damage T1. His T2 the Astra conscripts hold firm, fall back, get back in the fight and light up the Nurglings. Somehow I save these with the 5+/5++.
- His damage is huge as usual, my 2 Bloatdrones are down to half wounds, my remaining Plagueburst crawler is down to 4 wounds, my rhino is a bit beat up, I’m lost most of the Nurglings, and I know I have to push hard this turn or it’s over.
- We are relatively close in points, but he’s largely undamaged and although I have a decent footprint, it’s all about half dead.
- My Fleshy Abundance heals are abysmal yet again. The only thing working for me is the +1 Strength to the flamers and finally I get my Rhino close enough to get the Plaguemarines and the Biologus out. I roll high for Warp Time, and it is denied… yet again, on boxcars. This is fatal. The Plaguemarines are stuck dead to rights in front of the super heavy.
- My favorite guy, the Blightspawn unloads his toilet cannon on the Super Heavy and it takes about 9 wounds.
- I charge two tanks with Nurglings to tie them up. I charge my last functional Foetid Bload Drone into the Super heavy tank, and a Strategem is played that allows the Super Heavy to hit on 5+ in overwatch. This kills my Bloat Drone flat out, and my Daemon Prince is now forced to dive in and he takes 3 wounds and is almost dead.
- In an act of desperation I line up my Daemon prince with a few psychic powers: Virulent Blessings is key. The Daemon Prince puts about 12 wounds on the Super Heavy.
- The SuperHeavy blows the next turn, and I get Pask’s Executioner down to 2 wounds, but I’m still facing two vet squads, Lascannons, Flame tanks, and a Manticore Shell.
At this point we call the game. It’s as close as I can get to a success. The decision here is clear depending on what someone wants to bring to an ITC event: Death Guard that are slightly more effective (no Mothra), or Death Guard with some kick-arse models that look cool (Mothra and the funky guard).
I’ll have to decide shortly. Time has run out!