Does the following unit sound like a death star?
- Powerful shooting
- Powerful assault
- Objective secured
The Quick Chaos Cut Volume 8: Plague Marines, the Makings of a 9th Edition Deathstar
Side Note: The Quick Chaos Cut is now on Spotify! See the link here: https://open.spotify.com/show/3Un6YMcJVKEalMJL823G8b
What makes Plague Marines potentially a deathstar?
Plague Marines are one of the strongest melee units in the game. They have the best melee weapon in the game, the Flail of Corruption. This weapon is the best melee weapon because it is the most versatile, being great against both multi-wound and single wound targets. They have easy access to full rerolls, with all of their weapons being Plague Weapons and benefitting from Arch-Contaminator allowing full re-rolls to wound. They have easy access to mortal wounds through a Warp Charge 5 power, Blades of Putrefaction. They have easy access to +1 to hit and wound through Prescience and Blades of Putrefaction/Vets. They have easy access to extra attacks against Imperium units through DttFE and through a stratagem. This unit will remove almost any unit in the game that’s in charge range.
Plague Marines are one of the strongest shooting units that Chaos has. They have easy access to full re-rolls to wound through a stratagem to make their boltguns plague-weapons and Arch-Contaminator (and rending against infantry on top of that). They have easy access to double their number of shots through a stratagem. They have a decent threat range with Warptime and Rapid Fire at 18”. This unit can remove significant amounts on non-vehicle models.
Note: this unit has access to even stronger shooting through the Blight Bombardment and Biologos Putrifier combo. Unfortunately, that shooting is limited by its short range and a buffing character that needs to be extremely close to the unit. This shooting isn’t necessary as Plague Marines will already do significant damage to anything in charge range by removing them in the Fight phase.
Death Guard Plague Marines have a stratagem called Cloud of Flies – a stratagem that restricts enemy units from shooting unless the Plague Marine unit is the closes visible unit to the firing unit. This stratagem can effectively make large blocks of Plague Marines, unshootable as long as units are standing in front of them. Chaos has many durable units that can move in front of the Plague Marines and keep them safe (Nurglings, Plagueburst Crawlers, Lord of Change)
As they need to be in a Death Guard detachment, they will be paired with multiple Foul Blightspawn. The Foul Blightspawn will cover Plague Marine units with their 7″ aura to make units that charge within that aura fight as if they didn’t charge, allowing the Plague Marine units to swing first. The Plague Marine units will remove essentially any charging unit with their strength in the combat phase.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that Plague Marines are Objective Secured, making them extremely potent at playing the primary mission. On top of this, you can give Plague Marines a stratagem to heroically intervene through the Mortarion’s Anvil Plague Company. This translates to a unit that is near-unstoppable at scoring and denying Primary.
What does a list look like? What other units would complement this deathstar-lite? Here are list building factors to consider:
- Need other strong primary players: Nurglings/Bloodletters
- Need psychic, defensive, and offensive support: Word Bearers jump sorcerer, DG Daemon Prince, Foul Blightspawns
- Need to design the margins of the list around secondaries
Death Guard Vanguard
- Daemon Prince: Plaguechosen– Arch-Contaminator, Hellforged Sword, Blades of Putrefaction
- 3 Foul Blightspawn
- 17 Plague Marines with bolters and 2x Flails
- 15 Plague Marines with bolters and 2x Flails
- 5 Plague Marines with double knives and 2x flails
Word Bearers Patrol
- Jump Pack Sorcerer: Warlord – Daemonic Whispers, Maelefic Tome, Warptime, Prescience, Death Hex
- 10 Chaos Cultists
- 5 Raptors with Lightning Claw on Champion
- Changecaster: Gaze of Fate, Infernal Gateway
- 8 Nurglings
- 5 Nurglings
- 17 Bloodletters with Banner and Icon of Blood
This list has everything it needs. It plays Primary extremely well. It plays Secondaries extremely well.
It needs to be light on pre-game CP spending because it brings 3 detachments. It only spends CP on deep striking Bloodletters and Arch-Contaminator. It starts with an average of 6 CP (4+D3 from the Word Bearers WL trait).
Let’s talk about the synergies in this list.
The Death Guard detachment is the meat of the list. The Plague Marines are ace – see above. They are the best all-around unit that Chaos has. They’re great at shooting, great at assault, unshootable in some scenarios and unchargeable in most scenarios. The Daemon Prince provides rerolls to hit, wound, and psychic support in the form of Blades of Putrefaction. The Foul Blightspawns make your army essentially unchargeable and provide significant and consistent damage output mid and late game. The 5 Plague Marines in the rhino (with a Foul Blightspawn in there) also serves multiple purposes: take mid and far-board primary away from your opponent, provide mobility to threaten more objectives, and provide screening for the Clouded Plague Marines.
The Daemons Detachment provides a solid compliment to synergize with the Marines. The Changecaster gives built in rerolls through Gaze of Fate to save on CP. The Nurglings operate mid-board, serving two purposes: Putting you up on Primary, and providing Cloud of Flies protection to the Plague marine units. Bloodletters serve multiple purposes: denying your opponent primaries, making them screen important units and waste resources, and providing Cloud of Flies protection in front of Plague Marines.
The Word Bearers detachment is built around two things: One – guaranteed psychic powers of warptime, prescience, and/or death hex to supplement the DG Detachment. Two: Scrambler and Recon secondaries.
Lets talk about primaries. This list leverages the three best primary-playing units that chaos has: Plague Marines, Nurglings, and Bloodletters. Nurglings put you up on primary early in the game, forcing your opponent to deal with them before doing anything else or suffocate on primary. Plague Marines are amazing at absolutely cleaning up midfield objectives and not giving them up in return. Bloodletters are amazing at threatening any objectives on the field, especially forward objectives.
Want to play primaries against this list? You have to deal with the Nurglings quickly, otherwise you lose the midfield objectives early and start to lose your backfield. Want to hold midfield objectives? Try putting something on the midfield objectives that is going to survive against Plague Marines and Foul Blightspawn. And it has to be ObSec, otherwise you lose the objectives anyway. Want to hold your backfield objectives? Screen out all areas within 15” of your objectives. Bloodletters can easily stick 15” charges (11.5” charge is an average) and then pile in and consolidate 6” to steal objectives.
Let’s talk about secondaries: This list is designed to go hard after secondaries that are difficult to deny. Deploy scrambles is an auto-take every game with cultists to get it in your deployment/midboard and raptors to get it in your opponent’s deployment/midboard. It also has lots of other infantry units should those fail.
It’s WWSWF choices are the Daemon Prince, the Changecaster, and the Sorcerer. The Changecaster sits back in the backfield, guaranteeing 5 points, and still buffing the army by providing free rerolls. The Daemon Prince is near unkillable, as he’ll be surrounded by Plague Marines. On top of that the Foul Blightspawn will make him near-unchargeable. His statline is designed for WWSWF, with T6 3+/5++/5+++FnP and W8. The sorcerer is the weakest of the bunch and most likely to die. He’s fast, but that’s about it. However, getting an almost-guaranteed 10 points on a secondary that is independent of your opponent’s army is amazing.
The list does Domination extremely well because of the primary players and board control mentioned above. The list does Recon really well with the central board control, forward deploying Nurglings, Fast moving Rhino, and deep striking Bloodletters & Raptors. This list does Psychic Ritual really well, as it has such powerful central board control and you can sit your beefy Daemon Prince there the whole game (oh and he still gives rerolls to hit and wound while performing psychic ritual).
All of these secondaries are relatively easy to score and independent of your opponent’s army composition (except maybe Psychic Ritual).
Plague Marines are the closest thing Chaos has to a 9th edition death star. This unit has one of the best shooting outputs across all chaos and one of the best melee outputs across any codex. You can make this unit unshootable and unchargeable in a lot of scenarios. This unit is ObSec and can heroically intervene, and so plays primary extremely well. Pairing this unit in a list with other really strong primary players (Nurglings and Bloodletters), extremely reliable psychic support (Word Bearers), and the wiggle room designed for secondaries means that you can have an extremely powerful list that can roll over your opponent over the course of the game.