The Death Guard Premature Traitor Legion Ranking

by | Apr 17, 2017

Since the official release of the new Traitor Legion Supplement, I have been sleeping with the book. The Traitor Legion Supplement is a dream come true, a love letter for Chaos Space Marine players. As an old timer it is hard to imagine it was 2002 since we had the legendary, but infamous 3.5 Chaos Space Marine codex. Now as we speed ever closer to 8th edition and maybe Warhammer 40k End Times, let us hope the Traitor Legion Supplement will live on in whatever comes next. The Traitor Legion Supplement is amazing without being broken, better yet hopefully it will do what no other release has done before…bring balance to the game.

The Traitor Legion Supplement starts off on the right foot by quickly dispensing with the fluff, only dedicating two pages to each Traitor Legion and a minimal amount of recycled art and model pictures. Much like the Generals Handbook this release is about the rules and priced just right at $35.00.

Before we begin here is a few pointers for these reviews…

  • We will be ranking the Traitor Legion individually, the order will be a countdown from 9 to 1.
  • Most important these reviews will assume the reader has a copy of the Traitor Legions Supplement handy.
  • Focus will be on the Traitor Legions themselves, not what you can Ally with for instance.
  • All Traitor Legions get Veterans of the Long War for free, allowing them a version of Chapter Tactics.
  • All Traitor Legions change certain units to Troop choices, only really good for Combined Arms Detachments.
  • All Traitor Legions get unique Detachments, Warlord Traits, and Artefacts.
  • All the Traitor Legions are good and playable, so don’t think any of them are bad just because I rank them lower than others.

So let us go with number…

The Death Guard

Looking back it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the Death Guard would take the number 1 spot in the Traitor Legion pantheon. Throughout every edition and codex the Death Guard have always been the most reliable Traitor Legion. As well Games Workshop recent new Death Guard model tease means we will be seeing even more tools for this army, as Mortarion will added to the fray. In the meantime, let us focus on the rules we currently have because they are damn solid.

The Death Guard Special Rules

What makes the Death Guard so powerful is the stock abilities from the Gifts of Nurgle, with Fearless and Feel No Pain all at the cost of -1 Initiative. Then on top of that all Death Guard get Relentless making a unit like Havocs amazing. Of course, the Death Guard get Plague Marines as Troops, which was already the best Cult Troop. This is all on top of having T5 to T6 models running around causing mayhem.

The Death Guard Warlord Traits

The Death Guard Warlord Traits fail a bit as most are focused on making just your Warlord only more resilient. The Lord of Contagion is really the only standout providing random hits in Assault at Initiative 10. Arch-contaminator is decent as well, but you can’t build an list around the chance your Warlord gets this Trait. The rest are standard issue Warlord Traits with +1 wound, +1 Feel No Pain, and Eternal Warrior being kinda overlapping.

The Death Guard Artefacts

The Death Guard Artefacts are mostly weapons of various failing grades, with oddly the Puscleaver just cheap enough for a good throw in item if you want +2 poison, say with a Smashing Daemon Prince. The Poxwalker Hive takes the cake as fluffy and darn good, by making any Cultist unit into a Zombie unit. This is cheaper and more effective than Typhus as the Zombies regenerate and they can have upgrades beforehand. The Dolorous Knell is an interesting Artefact with ever more Fear prone armies, this can be combo-ed with say the Night Lords for impressive effect.

The Death Guard Vectorium Detachment

Death Guard Vectorium Detachment Example List

The Death Guard Vectorium Detachment makes an already fantastic army better. The Command Benefits only increases the durability of the Death Guard. Disgustingly Resilient is a great way to maximize Feel No Pain. Cloud of Flies is better, because now you have to fight through a cover save bonus to even get a chance to force a Feel No Pain. Taken all together you have most units, with T5, Feel No Pain re-rolling 1s and 3+ cover save in Ruins. This doesn’t even consider Jinking Chaos Bikes getting 3+ cover and T6. Building a Vectorium you can start with the Plague Colony which is the only way you are going to play Plague Marines, as the basic Chaos Space Marine is just as good otherwise. The Plague Colony is fine as a stand alone Formation, in tandem a Nurgle Daemon army to maximize Toughness debuffingy. Plague Colony in the Vectorium is also a possibility with Sorcerers who get Gift of Contagion.

Honestly though, the Vectorium is better centered around the Chaos Warband formation with Objective Secured units and access to Chaos Bikers.  You couple this with mobile Havocs and you won’t need much use for old favorites like Obliterators. Once you fill out the Chaos Warband you are left with a few options, you can go the Zombie route with the Lost and the Damned formation or go with T6 Chaos Spawn as a cheap Chaos Lord delivery system. Play around with what type Lords of the Legion you want, Chaos Lords, Sorcerers, and Daemon Princes all have role, just depends on what type of list you are going for. Daemon Prince or Sorcerers means you are going to double down on the Discipline of Nurgle or Biomancy. If you go the Chaos Bike route, then Chaos Lords add the needed punch as Bikers soak up damage. Interestingly, the Vectorium just perfects a typical Death Guard leaving very little to the imagination on what should be taken.

The Death Guard as a Combined Arms Force is very flexible as you don’t need the specialized Vectorium to be competitive. Since almost every Death Guard is effective you can build a list that fits the models you already have or desire to use. You can go with Typhus Zombie horde with a few Havoc and Chaos Marine units for support. Even something like Terminators now have a place as they are walking S5, 2+ saves with Feel No Pain. As an Allied Detachment you can go cheap and use something like Poxwalker Hive on the Dark Apostle to turned Cultists into zombies. This is great as you can stack it with other Traitor Legions who give bonuses to Cultists. You can also just plug in a Chaos Lord and squad of Chaos Bikes with minimal chaf.

Overall, the Death Guard are everything you want in a Traitor Legion. The Death Guard have rules that fit their backstory, they perform well on the battlefield, and almost every unit is playable. That is the hidden gem of the Death Guard, almost every unit just got is playable, you won’t win every game, but you can bring out your Terminators, Havocs, and Chaos Bikers and perform well. The best part is the Death Guard are no where near to being done as new models, Primarch, and rules are on the horizon.

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