Codex Preview – Death Guard: Special Rules and Psychic Powers

More information for Codex Death Guard following some insights into their warlord / relics / stratagems. We all know that nearly every model has Disgustingly Resilient (5+ FNP) and we are now privy to Inexorable Advance. No penalty for moving and shooting heavy weapons or advancing and firing assault weapons and can shoot rapid fire weapons at double tap range when in 18″ instead of 12″.

This might seem insanely powerful on paper but only applies to Infantry units and Hellbrutes (most likely Daemon Princes when this gets updated as per CSM but DPs don’t run around with Missile Launchers). Death Guard do not also get access to units like Chosen or Havocs where a lot of these weapons could really shine. Death Guard units are not known for their heavy weapons either. It’s still a great option though for those couple of heavy weapons on those models you do have (Hellbrutes) or getting better range / mobility out of Assault and Rapid Fire Weapons.

Blades of Putrefecation is like Hammerhand for Grey Knights but with the added bonus of doing mortal wounds on 7+ to hit. Grey Knights are generally better in combat with their nemesis force weapons but this is nice given the general tarpit nature of Death Guard units in combat. Easy to cast as well. Putrescent Vitality though adds +1S/T to a unit (Infantry only) which can turn Pox Walkers into S5/T5 with Typhus – that’s pretty durable for their point cost.

Some interesting options but no where near as “on paper this is really good” as the first lot of previews.

Codex Focus: Death Guard Part 2: Special Rules and Psychic Powers


With the Death Guard codex (alongside Mortarion, the Plague Brethren and the awesome limited edition) on pre-order this weekend, we’re previewing what you can expect from this re-invented army in Warhammer 40,000. Following on from our look into the Relics, Warlord Traits and Stratagems from Tuesday, we’re checking out the army special rules and psychic powers that’ll help make your Death Guard unstoppable.

Army Special Rules

Inexorable Advance is the Death Guard equivalent to the Chapter Tactics and Legion Traits we’ve seen so far. If you’re using a Death Guard Detachment, your units won’t suffer any penalties for moving and firing Heavy weapons, or Advancing and firing Assault weapons, as well as being able to use your Rapid Fire weapons at a longer range.

In practice, this means you’ll be able to keep your Death Guard bearing down on the foe without blunting your offensive capabilities. This is of particular use to Helbrutes, who possess a range of Heavy weapons, while Plague Marines with Assault weapons like a meltagun or blight launcher will make for a surprisingly mobile fire-support unit.

While it’s not an army special rule as such, it’s worth noting that nearly every new Death Guard unit has Disgustingly Resilient. This includes all the new Daemon Engines serving alongside the Death Guard, as well as both their unique Terminator units (rest assured we’ll be taking a closer look at these soon!). Disgustingly Resilient is an incredibly useful ability, helping your units cope with high AP weapons and even Mortal Wounds that can be deadly for heavily armoured infantry. Older units like Possessed and Helbrutes lack Disgustingly Resilient but will benefit from your Stratagems significantly, meaning they still very much have a role to play in your army.

What units do I get?

Talking of older units, you may be wondering which units the Death Guard can still use – particularly if you’re a long standing fan looking to revamp your army with a new codex! The Death Guard will be keeping access to everything they could use in Index: Chaos – so Chaos Lords, Sorcerers, Chaos Cultists, Helbrutes, Possessed, Chaos Spawn, Chaos Land Raiders, Defilers, Chaos Predators and Chaos Rhinos. In addition, there are 9 completely new units in the codex, datasheets for the 4 new units from Dark Imperium, and an updated datasheet for Plague Marines that gives them some powerful new options – we’ll be previewing these closer to release.

That’s not all – the codex also contains rules for a range of Nurgle Daemons – perfect for summoning into your army if you’re in need of some Nurglings or need some fast-moving Plague Drones in a hurry.

Psychic Powers

The new Death Guard codex also brings an expanded Contagion discipline to the army. As well as the powers from Index: Chaos, there are three new powers to complement them. Blades of Putrefaction makes Death Guard units deadly in close combat and allows you to stack up mortal wounds with your Plague weapons.

Putrescent Vitality is a superb support ability that can easily bring Plague Marines up to Toughness 6, or provide a Lord of Contagion with a handy bump to strength.

Make sure to pre-order your copy of Codex: Death Guard this weekend and take advantage of these powerful special rules for yourself! In the meantime, Dark Imperium and Know No Fear are a great way to start a Death Guard army of your own – pick up your copy online or in store.

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26 responses to Codex Preview – Death Guard: Special Rules and Psychic Powers

i see these as more of support abilities than something to build an army around. blades of putrefaction + the new plague marine melee weapons might be good, if we can tear ourselves away from "five plague marines with 3 plasma guns" for a few seconds.

Nothing has really made me want to play chaos as much as that Inexorable Advance special rule. There are more powerful rules out there, but laying down consistent fire as you just march down the board is very thematic.

When I saw the Plague Marine Datasheet in Codex: CSM, I was worried that they were focusing too hard on making Plague Marines into an Assault Unit. I was so happy to see Inexorable Advance to give more power back to the basic Bolter dudes. Looks like a bunch of Plague Marines and Helbrutes slogging across the table won't be completely terrible as a core of a Death Guard Army.

The Death Guard seem to be very well designed to excel in exactly the sort of playstyle I wanted them to have: foot slog across the board, until you get to close range and/or are standing on the objective, and then just _grind_ the enemy into submission in a war of attrition.

Nasty, brutish, and short-ranged.

Yeah, they are so dangerous, I am prolly gonna pick up around 3k of them or so, i love the models, I am a bit sad the beetle tanks don't have a kill shot equivalent, Disgusting Slimy Mortar bombardment, but i well, i am not sure they are a good army, i think prolly not, no pure army is, but there is just something nice about slowly walking across the battlefield taking all the damage then turning into a wrecking machine.

The biggest buff i see really is their psychic, Typhus can stand behind two units of pox walkers, give one +1T and one -1 to hit, shroud the plague marines, and you are stuck shooting T8 tanks or trash.

The damage output Morty can do from the slightest mistake in positioning is ridiculous, and Fabius is just fantastic when he has 3 really legit targets to cast on (poxwalkers and the plaguey's)

We got the Flail guy up to 6 atks on 2's with a reroll. Wasn't even that hard.

The only issue is the eldar exist, and all those 4 movement things as cool as they are are never going to get to hit anything. Its like trying to respond to a Magnus flank, if you send enough to go deal with him, he just sods off and you are out of pocket 1/4 of your army. Objective placement is going to be so crucial, get them clustered in the middle and youa re fine, if they are out at the edges you just going to get outmaneuvered.

You could add Fabius Bile to a DG army with sorcerer and try to get a T7 Plague Marine blob. Not super effective, but would be annoying, ha

Rik And Morty's Zombie Horde.

Super Heavy detachment

1 Magnus the Red (aka Rik)

Super Heavy Detahcment

1 Morty

! battalion of Deathguard

Necrosius Typhus 40 poxwalkers and all the Plague marines you can afford!

They "get along" as well as any of the Chaos Gods do. Which means anything between bitter rivals or best bros, depending on the whims of the gods and the personalities of the mortal warlords involved. They aren't diametrically opposed to each other (Khorne's opposite is usually Tzeentch, Nurgle's opposite is usually Slaanesh). But Chaos is pure infinite possibility… if you can imagine a scenario where Khorne and Nurgle worshipers would work alongside each other than go for it.

Another fun thing to do, if you want to stretch your hobbyist skills, is to take a unit that belongs to one god and try to figure out a way that will make a suitable "counts as" for another god. For example, I'm thinking that some of the Rotten Belles (Zombie Victorian Prostitutes in Fetish Wear) from 'Malifaux' combined with choice GW bitz will be a good basis for Nurgle-y Daemonettes of Slaanesh. There's a 6" long plastic Housefly toy in the giftshop of the local children's museum that might make a good Nurgle-y Heldrake. The possibilities are endless.

I can see why you would think this, lots of people do, but if you double check you’ll find Khorne/Slaanesh and Nurgle/Tazeentch are the diametrically opposed pairings. It makes less sense but supposedly Khorne represents death with Slaanesh representing the extremes of life while Nurgle represents stagnation and despair with Tazeentch representing change and hope. Khorne is often stated to hate sorcerors though.

Tzeentch is not the god of hope. Hope is not change. You can hope for stagnation. Hope's too broad a concept for any of the Chaos gods, because all of them require hope in some way (Hope for battle, hope for change, hope for stagnation, hope for interesting things to happen).

People often associate hope with change, and I'm sure Tzeentch would happily declare itself the god of hope (because, y'know, god of lies), but it isn't that. It seems that someone picked up on a comment (In the only Liber Chaotica, I think) made by a mortal scholar, and assumed it was objective narrator.

Khorne is the god of battles and blood.
Tzeentch is the god of Change and Cunning.
Nurgle is the god of disease, decay, and life. (And despair/stoicism, depending on who you ask)
Slaanesh is the god of obession, excess, and perfection.

My totally non-canonical reason for why Khorne despises Slaanesh so much is because somewhere in the skull god's psyche, he's slowly realising that his obsession with slaughter entirely fits within the bailiwick of the god of obession.

Hope is occasionally said to be under Tzeentch's purview, in the same way that martial pride is for Khorne. However, in the grimdark these "positive" aspects of the Chaos Gods are very rarely mentioned.

Nurgle is very explicitly about despair and denial of death. I mean, a ton of the Nurgle effects are morale penalties for that very reason.

Yeah, I know people keep saying "hope" is positive Tzeentch. It's just wrong, though. It isn't. At all. Tzeentch's postive is ambition, drive to change, and optimism. EVERY Chaos god requires hope.

For the nurgle stuff – yeah, I agree, it's just that few Nurgle worshippers would agree that they were despairing – they'd argue they are acceptance.

The nature of Tzeentch's power is change. The source of Tzeentch's power is the hope that change will be positive.

As far as I can tell, the original association is actually all the way back in Realms of Chaos: The Lost & the Damned: "While the energy of Tzeentch comes from hope and changing fortune, that of Nurgle comes from defiance born of despair and hopelessness." (pg.12)

Pretty sure this was all retconned in. Tzeentch hares khorne, khorne hates tzeentch. Slaanesh hates elder, nurgle just doing his thing. All scared of the emperor. This is how it was when I first started playing.

Khorne, anger rage murder brute force
Tzeentch change, trickery manipulation
Slaanesh depravity, spiritual corruption
Nurgle physical corruption disease and decay

They have changed a 'title over the years, but they are tied to these things at their core

There's no "retcon" – in the original two chaos hardbacks Khorne and Slaanesh are opposites, Nurgle and Tzeentch are opposites. It's been that way since the chaos powers entered the game. If anything, it makes it a little more interesting than the expected "fighter god hates magic god" type scenario

My point was that the Chaos Gods are ALL rivals of one another, some of the time, just as they are ALL allies of each other, some of the time. Truth be told, the gods themselves are really beyond such mortal concepts as “rival” and “ally,” they’re too alien and inhuman for such thinking to even apply. It’s the mortal Warlords and (semi) free-willed Greater Dæmons that still think in such terms… If a Khorne Warlord and a Tzeentch Warlord have a reason to ally, then they can definitely do so.

-shrugs-. While I'm usually a big person for first edition fluff, neither of those make a great deal of sense. Hope is not something that actually fits Tzeentch specifically (As I keep saying, it's something that ALL the Chaos Gods require their worshippers to have), and Defiance…isn't particularly fitting for nurgle either, given that much of what his worshippers do is accept the inevitable.

Essentially, the thing with Tzeentch is, as you say, that he is about Change.

People often confuse change with hope, but you can have change born of hopelessness, and you can have stasis born of hope. The statement "I hope that nothing ever changes" makes absolute sense.

It's not that Tzeentches followers don't hope. They do. It's that Khorne's followers hope, Slaanesh's followers hope, Malal's follower hopes, the Emperor's followers hope. It's not tied to a specific chaos god – hope doesn't do anything much for any of them in itself.

Hope for power through change pushes Tzeentch's followers.
Hope for glory/blood and skulls in battle push Khorne's.
Hope for perfection/excess/new experiences push Slaanesh's.
Hope that tomorrow won't be worse than today pushes the Emperor's.

Well, they revealed Morty's points cost so I just ran a couple of games using what equates to a modified 4 "knights" list vs the stupid 'mander/GK and sent them packing 3-1 letting them have the first turn (i know i can beat most stuff with an alpha strike off Magnus) and beat the eversor's (but only in one game)

Running Lord of Skulls, Morty and Magnus, significantly better firepower and mobility than is offered by the knight equivalents.

I'm using an Alpha Legion Batallion with a Nurgle Sorcerer for Pestilience and a Khorne Warpsmith (toying with going world bearers for much better deny options, atm it's Alpha Legion for the forward Deploy. World Bearers+Cultists would give me 5 legitmate threats, but nerf morty a bit and i don't get the easy objective early)

A Daemon Batlallion with a nurgle herald and the changeling. both batallions are stocked up with 30 brimstone horrors.

Using 2cp's a turn on Daemon Forge to reroll hits and wounds for the Lord of Skulls, and The Great Sorcerer to get 4 casts out of Magnus. So far, no alpha strike attempt has killed any of the Super Heavies (the brimstones are blocking all the psychic stuff and taking the first charges). The GK resorted to dropping in far away and shooting, but are incredibly poorly matched in a shooting war, and lose 2 units a turn to Magnus and Morty

This is a massive improvement over the lists running double Lord, the extra stuff you can buy and Morty's incredible survivability baseline are really helping, Magnus is the only target wounds stick to, Morty and the Lord of skulls both heal, and after turn 1, theres a fair chance morty has his -1 to hit from the Sorcerer.

I have found using Chaos Familiar strategy to pick up Death Hex if needed, it is far better, allowing magnus to have warp time with his super reliable casts. The counter still seems to be to focus Magnus, but it is problematic with the ludicrous firepower the Lord of skulls puts out. Deploying back is the only real option, you can't risk Warptime on the lord of skulls and it getting into melee T1, it has proven to be a complete nightmare to deal with, it's just too tough for most stuff.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to try it out vs a few super high firepower T'au and Eldar lists see how it does but i think it really is as brutal as i expected. Can't believe Morty is only 470, 12 command points in a 3 super heavy army. Nuts.

You can't use Horrors for troops in an Alpha Legion battalion. Horrors aren't CSM nor Alpha Legion models, so your battalion would just be a generic Chaos battalion and wouldn't get the Alpha Legion rules (though you could still use the stratagems/warlord traits.)

Meh posted in wrong place, do I have to use cultists instead? its not a great loss, the horrors are only 30 cheaper and since found out morty is anpretty powerful psyker on his own, so I can drop the alpha legion sorcerer to a lord.

In games today, elder and t'au had the firepower to drop a superheavy turn 1 but their positioning following it left them over extended and the got ripped apart by the other 2 super heavies. I rea'lly think warp time needs to be nerved to infantry only. couple of losses today to random objectives (some games army comp just doesn't matter). I would really love if any one with ork experience could tell me how they think they'd deal with it, I have no ork army, and the khorne version of this is even more ridiculous it turns out.

Hmmm, I thought horrors were a troop choice in cam, I knownthey aren't heretic estates but do I have to use cultists instead? To be able to use the alpha legion strata, (its pretty important it denies anhuge deepstrike area in front of the super heavies getting rapid fired)

They are listed in the CSM codex, but what matters is the faction keywords on the unit. Since they don't have the Alpha Legion or Heretic Astartes keywords, they don't count as those factions and thus your detachment won't benefit from the special rules for Heretic Astartes or Alpha Legion. It's still a legal army, you just won't be getting that -1 to hit penalty at long ranges for them.

You can still use the Alpha legion strategy, however, since that only requires you have an individual _unit_ match that faction.

Redid the list and its a bit stronger now, I have to have an Alpha Legion Detachment, I am utterly reliant on the Strategems (which i think I only get to use if I have a Detachment) despite being triple super heavy, it's goal is objective control and denial, It has a reasonable chance to table people, it's damage output is in the very top end.

The core remains the Super Heavy Detachment

Heretic Asartes Super Heavy Detachment – (3cp, 1422pts)

Lord of Skulls with Gore storm cannon and Skull Hurler (Alpha Legion)
Magnus the Red

Chaos Daemons Battalion Detachment – (3cp, 260pts)
The Changeling
Herald of Nurgle
3 units of 10 Brimstone Horrors

Alpha Legion Battalion Detachment (3cp, 317pts)

Chaos Lord with Jump pack, Blade of the Hydra, Chain sword, Mark of Nurgle
Chaos Sorcerer
3 * Chaos Cultists

This one is always Tournament Legal, if FW stuff is okay, then instead drop the weaponry on the Lord, swap the Herald for a Malific Lord, and upgrade the Sorcerer to a Daemon Prince of Nurgle.

This list may seem like it is trying to just table people, it always has that option, especially going first, but it is actually a hyper mobile objective control Army with a highly resilient mega damage output core that synergies super well. The 12 command points are very important, 7 are just gone, 3 turns of Buffing the Lord of Skulls and casting an extra Psychic Power. It is 14-0 going first, it's alpha strike is too much, and the Lord ties up the best enemy vehicle. There is nowhere to hide from Magnus, and he will always kill at least one unit.

Going 2nd is where the Alpha Legion come in, when going vs Grey Knights/T'au commanders (the biggest threats to deep strike in and kill a super heavy) instead of using the strategy on the Lord, use it to set up a forward screen of cultists that deny alpha strike it's a 20" long line of units, set up 12" in front of your Army, it leaves an incredibly small area left that the deep strikes can come down, if they bunch up to get down in range, their drones have to deploy behind the commanders and you just retaliate with your own charge, Grey knights pretty much have to become a shooting army, deploying back, charging the cultists is suicide.

Things to note: Your best unit, despite having two primarchs is the Lord of Skulls, he is T8 has incredible firepower, but most of all, is ridiculous in melee. Warp Time across the board and just set up in your opponents deployment zone.

Objective placement, you want to try and cluster objectives towards the middle of the map where possible. Keep Objectives out of cover, whatever bonuses your cultists get, the enemy is going to always benefit more. If using Cards, keep a unit of horrors off the table, you can summon it later to either take an objective, or to score D3 vp if you have the card. Be aware of the opportunity to use 2 VP to redploy your cultists, if Magnus goes to take an objective, redeploy them to sit on it the turn after.