Of all the legions, none probably had a more sinister and worse struggle to free themselves from the confines of their home world than the Death Guard and Mortarion. In today's post, I wanted to look at building a Death Guard Army List for gaming in 30k and 40k games.
If you have not done so already, I would encourage you to look at my previous posts on how to think about constructing army lists for the Horus Heresy era -- both the basics and the synergy concept. A brief look at the Betrayal of Calth list is similarly recommended.
What is it that the Death Guard can do that other legions do not, or fail to fully replicate? What are the strengths of this legion? My earlier post on the legion rules covers most of this.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked is that they automatically pass fear tests. They are one of the few legions that have an in-built hard counter to the Night Lords game plan, and will require being swept off the board to ensure a victory. Nor will they suffer pinning. They're used to hellish battlefields, but this is balanced up by a negative to their sweeping advance rolls.
Their unique Rite of War is the Reaping. This allows them to bring an unprecedented amount of fire power to the table in the form of heavy support squads and veteran tactical squads as none-compulsory troops. Not only that, they can get move through cover, and purchase rad grenades for characters.But the cost is steep: no running, no flat out moves, no deep striking, and only one fast attack choice thank you very much. Yet, unlike many other legions, they are permitted to take fortifications. This is therefore a rite of war that calls for lots of bodies on the ground and somehow must compensate for being slow.
How do we take advantage of this rite of war and all of the goodness that the rad grenades and bonus firepower can bring?
I would personally favour a lot of troops, backed up by some key elements.
Although I will write at least one more Death Guard army list to take advantage of their chemical munitions, I want here to focus on the Reaping rite of war.
To use The Reaping, we need a HQ with the Master of the Legion to be our warlord. For the Death Guard, only Typhon can give us that as a named special character -- I would have personally preferred Crysos Morturg to write a bit more of a fully entry myself and for his infiltrate rule. Rask would also be cool for his tank hunters. Given that a Master of the Legion can re-roll their traits, perhaps aim for getting Master of Ambush to take advantage of this. Indeed, some infiltration could really help this army list. That's ultimately why I'm taking a generic praetor here. I'm also aiming for 1850 points as that's pretty typical for a tournament list. I'll detail below how to expand it to 2000 points.
Legion Praetor, jump pack, iron halo, paragon blade, rad grenades, combi-plasma gun and melta bombs (195 points).
Rite of War = The Reaping. This HQ will go with an assault squad (below). Take Rask instead as an alternative.
Master of Signal, artificer armour, melta bombs (100 points).
This is one to go with one of the heavy support squads.
Assault Squad with 10 member, Sergeant with thunder hammer, artificer armour, melta bombs (285 points).
A somewhat basic assault squad and a compulsory choice.
Tactical Squad with 20 members, legion vexilla, Sergeant with power fist, artificer armour (285 points).
A large body of troops on the ground as a compulsory choice. These are objective grabbers and takers.
Heavy Support Squad with 10 members, missile launchers all around, augury scanner (290 points).
A TROOPS selection that is none compulsory.
Heavy Support Squad with 6 members, plasma cannons all around, augury scanner (245 points).
Another TROOPS selection that is none compulsory.
Heavy Support Squad with 5 members, lascannons all around, augury scanner (240 points)
A third TROOPS selection that is none compulsory!
Storm Eagle Gunship (210 points).
The only fast attack permitted - and its a transport.
TOTAL ARMY COST = 1850 points.
How it works.
This army list takes advantage of The Reaping rite of war by bringing more heavy weaponry than your opponent can handle. A full 10 krak or frag missiles every turn is nothing to be sneezed at and can handle hordes, as well as montrous creatures and tanks. The lascannons are there to handle tanks. The plasma cannons take care of more elite enemies like terminators, forcing enough saves to get through even invulnerable saves. All of these squads need to be set up well inside ruins or fortifications when deployment happens. Importantly, all of them have augury scanners to prevent infiltrators (such as the Alpha Legion) creeping up on them -- this is important as it would be a hard counter to this style of army. In addition, the interceptor rule that it allows them discourages nearby deep striking. Hence a deployment zone with overlapping 18 inch augury scanners is in place from the start. Add the Master of Signals to one of these squads to improve their BS, and to provide an orbital bombardment and its looking very good already.
The full troops squad is to be deployed inside the storm eagle and transported to wherever it needs to be. In this way, we have some rapid moving components that don't need to sit on objectives like the heavy support squads are doing.
The praetor goes with the assault squad and is there to hunt down both tanks, their contents, and other enemy squads.
Subtle this army list is not. Effective, it can certainly be. It works by simply laying down a degree of firepower that the enemy simply cannot handle and making them stay in their cover. Meanwhile, the more rapidly moving components goes to hunt isolated parts of the enemy down. If in trouble, castling up will work. One problem they will face is against a flyer-heavy army list, but they should have enough fire power to cause such a list trouble and pause for thought. The enemy has to come to the heavy support components to win (assuming they're sat on objectives). The trick is to ensure you kill them before they reach you.
Should the warlord trait be lucky and we get a Master of Ambush, we can infiltrate three of the squads plus the praetor. This may be a good idea for the core troops squads and maybe one of the heavy support squads if we can get them in to a superior position.
Expansions and Contractions.
For 2000 points, I would consider adding in a second master of signals (or siege breaker), or even Rask for his tank hunters ability and upgrading a few bits and pieces here and there, or throwing in another lascannon to the third heavy support squad. Flakk missiles would be a terrific addition here as well. I might even be tempted to purchase a fortification to place one of the squads inside if need be. To reduce to 1500 points, we would need to shed 350 points, so we would need to ditch one of the heavy support squads at least, and then probably think about reducing the tactical squad downward as well.
Comments and thoughts welcome.
[Image Credit: Galle by Thor, distributed under CC BY 2.0].