Monday, December 13, 2021

REVIEW: Maggotkin of Nurgle Lore & Path to Glory

Today I have part two of my Maggotkin of Nurgle review, covering all of the lore and the brand new Path to Glory section! While a lot of "core" lore has stayed the same, there is a quite bit new. Whether that's brand new storylines or previously untouched areas that have been fleshed out a bit. So, let's find out what the Grandfather has been up to!

I'm going to start this review off with the first thing everyone sees when they look at a new Battletome, the cover. First off, thank you to Games Workshop for sending me this free review copy. As for the cover, it's cool, but I think I actually prefer the old one better. This style is similar to what's been used on the Beasts of Chaos, Slaanesh, a few others. It's not bad by any means, but it always feels a bit unfinished. It feels a bit sketchy. I think having art like this within the book is great as I love seeing a variety of styles on display, but for the covers I like something with a bit more polish and punch to it. It's not a huge surprise that the Rotbringer Sorcerer is the star of the show since he's the new model that came out with this book. but it does feel a bit odd from a lore standpoint. They're not that important to the faction as a whole. The Lord of Blights made more sense on the last cover. Personally, I'd love to see a Great Unclean One or something on the cover.

Once you crack it open we delve straight into the lore. The very first page has the brief intro to the faction, with some stylish art around it. I particularly like the sinister Great Unclean One face hovering overtop of the text, and using its horns and the slime dripping off of them to frame the text is a wonderful touch. The first section following that is the "general overview" of the Maggotkin as a faction. This explains Nurgle in broad strokes, as well as what his followers are like. I do like how they mention that even the followers of other Chaos gods are confused on why anyone would pick Nurgle as their god. It's explains that most of his followers are people who have lived hard lives and have turned to him in desperation. A favorite tactic of his is for particularly sick and diseased individuals to call out for succor, which he gladly answers. Instead of curing them, he makes it so they see their sickness as a blessing, and then loads them up with even more disease. They effectively become immune to it, and it no longer threatens to kill them. They also become immune to most pain, though I think they still feel some of it, it just doesn't bother them. Another core tenet of the Maggotkin is the absence of hope. To them, hope is what hurts the most, as it often fails. Without hope you can never be disappointed. While this sounds like they would be rather morose, most Maggotkin are actually quite jovial, with Nurgle seen as a kindly grandfather who loves all of his children. Out of all of the Chaos gods, he is the "nicest" one, at least to his followers.

The next section largely covers what you're probably already familiar with if you've been a fan of Nurgle in AoS prior to this. We get an overview of the War of Life in Ghyran, which Nurgle covets more than any of the mortal realms. It mentions how he initially invades Shyish and Aqshy as well, but all of the Chaos gods eventually picked one realm they wanted more than any other. For Khorne that's Aqshy, T'zeentch has Chamon, and Slaanesh kind of has two with Ulgu and Hysh. Nurgle wants Ghyran above all others, since it's so abundant with life, which he loves. To him and his followers, disease and death is just a natural part of life, and even death begets more life in the form of fungus and bacteria. We do get some new details here on how Nurgle infiltrated the mortal realms prior to the Age of Chaos. Where the other gods would whisper in mortals' minds to pull them into their sway, Nurgle simply unleashed some choice diseases into the realms. When mortals fell ill they inevitably called out for aid, which he happily answered. Torglug the Despised also gets a mention here, and I really hope we see him explored more in his new form of Tornus the Redeemed since it's such an interesting concept, and something unique and new to AoS in the worlds of Warhammer. You're also reminded, that although Nurgle technically "lost" at the end of the Realmgate Wars against Alarielle at the Genesis Gate, most of Ghyran still remains in his grasp afterwards.

This is followed up by an overview of the events post Realmgate Wars, which is primarily the actions of Horticulous Slimux. We get to read about how him and Rotigus tried to stop the Necroquake, for to Nurgle, the undead are a sterile hellscape where disease cannot flourish. The biggest additions to the lore here are the plans of the Maggotkin post Broken Realms. After Mannfred attempted to corrupt one of the realmgates in Invidia and failed, they noticed that they could use the realmgate to bring the Garden of Nurgle into reality. Alarielle further amplified this with her Song of Life, which imbued a ton of power into ley lines and sites of power. Their new goal is to find these sites of power and corrupt them. Luckily for them, the Dawnbringer Crusades of Sigmar are also seeking out these sites to build their new towns one. This doubly helps the Maggotkin, as they can more easily find the sites of power, and then also "use" all of the unlucky sigmarite inhabitants there to fuel their disease ridden rituals. Slowly but surely, the Garden of Nurgle is creeping into reality and the lines between Nurgle's domain and the mortal realms grows ever thinner.

Speaking of the Garden of Nurgle, his domain within the Realm of Chaos gets explored a bit as well. This is all familiar to anyone who has read past Nurgle books, but it's presented in a way that made it feel fresh, at least to me. This is followed by a map of the Everspring Swathe, which is the area in Ghyran that everything has been centered on. You can see how much of the land Nurgle actually controls, with the continent of Invidia being completely under his control. Some other interesting areas on the map is the land of Kurnotheal to the south, also Nurgle controlled, and an area I noticed called the Fimir Bay. 

The Maggotkin get a full four pages for their timeline, and we get quite a few new nuggets of info here. Some of my favorite include Defiled Chivalry, which talks about the Order of the Fly and the events from the Nagash: Undying King novel. I'm super excited to see them officially included in the Maggotkin lore, as they're one of my favorite representations of the Maggotkin in the AoS novels. We also learn about how Horticulous led the invasion of Kurnotheal, by making the ocean between that land and Invidia so diseased and disgusting that it became gelatinous and could be crossed on foot. There he conquered the land and killed Kurnoth himself, who was in his weakened winter state. The Black Oaks talks about how Horticulous stole the acorns to these demonic trees from a Stormvault and is now planting them across the realms, and currently has his sight set on the Living City. Perhaps the most interesting part to me though are multiple mentions of the Kruleboyz actually using Nurgle's diseases to create new poisons, and in some cases actually bargaining with the Maggotkin to grant them new diseases to experiment on. I'd love to see some Nurgle orruks as they don't often do much with the Chaos gods.

This is followed up with a breakdown of how Nurgle's Plague Legions and Rotbringer Contagiums are organized. The last section before we move onto the bestiary goes into more detail on Nurgle's most famous Legions and Contagiums, which are also the ones that have rules in the game. For the demons we have the Munificent Wanders, the Befouling Host, and the Droning Guard. The Wanderers are the most favored of the Plague Legions, and are obsessed with spreading disease far and wide. They are your typical green demons. They favor mass assaults by waves of Plaguebearers and have been entrusted with some of Nurgle's most choice diseases. Epidemius also tends to favor this legion to further his work of tabulating all of the diseases in existence. The Befouling Host are my boys, and are known as the Garden Garrison. They're typically a pale color and are the servants of Horticulous Slimux. Their main disease is known as Lumberlord's Woe, and it turns its victims to wood, which then decays, and acts as the fertilizer for a Feculent Gnarlmaw. They seek to grow Nurgle's garden more than any other legion. Lastly, the Droning Guard act as the vanguard of Nurgle's demonic forces, comprised mostly of Plague Drones. Their disease of choice is the Soul-lock Shivers, which sees its victims cartilage wither, and then harden, turning them into living statues.

On the Rotbringer side of things we have the Blessed Sons, the Drowned Men, and the Filthbringers. The Blessed Sons are the largest of these Contagiums and are your classic green armored Rotbringers that you know from most art. They were also the first of the Contagiums back during the Age of Chaos. They're described more like the Black Legion from 40k, in that they're a large conglomerate of various Contagiums, who have been subsumed into one larger coalition. This gives you a bit more freedom with appearance, as really any Contagium can be a Blessed Sons Contagium. They're so large that they have entire empires across the various realms. Next up are the Drowned Men, who are the crew of Nurgle's Slime Fleets. They not only make use of conventional boats, but also blimps and looted sky vessels. This suits their favored style of combat, atop Rot Flies. Currently, a large contingent of Drowned Men are invading Chamon, to strike at both the Kharadron Overlords, and their hated rival T'zeentch. Lastly, we have the Filthbringers, who seek out the magical knowledge of Nurgle. They are led by Rot Covens of sorcerers, and their overall command is led by the Blighted Septagon. The seventh seat on this council is reserved for Festus, who has taken this as his personal Contagium of sorts, and now garrison the Leech's Lair in Ghur, his personal stronghold. 

The bestiary section doesn't have much new. As far as I can tell, every unit's description is more or less the same as it was last time. I do quite enjoy Rotigus and how he's worshipped as a twisted form of rain or fertility god. He also has a wonderful petty rivalry with Horticulous and seeks to bring the Garden to Shyish more than any realm since he was banished there previously. Another great bit is how Rot Flies are Beasts of Nurgle who had been spurned too many times by their playmates (also known as, accidentally killing them every time) and have grown resentful. Where the Beasts are jovial and akin to an enthusiastic puppy, the Rot Flies are bitter and just want to dole out pain in retribution. On the mortal side the characters who were alive during the world-that-was have been "cleaned" up a bit. Only the Glottkin mention that they were alive back then, which I think is a good thing. The majority of these Nurgle characters came in right at the end during the End Times, so it's not like they had a huge connection to the Old World anyway. 

The Path to Glory section opens with what differentiates a Nurgle Path to Glory from a normal one. For starters, you have the option to find hidden patch of the garden, where the garden of Nurgle has already started seeping into the realms when you make an exploration roll. These cost no glory points to control and cannot be upgraded. You can also turn a territory you control into a part of the garden by completing one of two quests, or winning a path to glory game using the Encroaching Corruption battleplan. 

Demons are handled quite uniquely when it comes to your roster. Unless they have the hero keyword they do not count, and are not recorded as part of your order of battle. Instead, when you pick your army for a battle, for each Great Unclean One or Glottkin in your army you can include 3 Nurgle demon units, and for each other Nurgle demon hero you can include another Nurgle demon unit. Also, on your order of battle you can include any number of coalition units, but when it comes to playing an actual game you're still guided by the normal restrictions. 

Whenever you're the defender in a Path to Glory game as Nurgle, you fight using the Blighted Landscape rules. Hidden Corruption has you pick up to D3 terrain features in your hero phase and roll a dice for each unit, friend or foe, within 3" of it. On a 4+ enemy units receive a disease point, and friendly units generate you another contagion point. Aid Me, Grandfather is a special rules that gives you a once per battle chance to save a Nurgle Hero who is slain. Instead you roll a dice and on a 6 they are not slain and all wounds are healed, and a 3-5 they die as normal, and on a 1-2 they turn into a Beast of Nurgle. Lastly there is Tearing Down the Garden, which gives your opponent the chance to revert one of your territories that you had turned into a garden as long as they won the battle.

Next, we get a Maggotkin of Nurgle name generator, with a table for Rotbringer names, a table for demon names, and a table for mutations and poxes. This page also has one of the best little snippets of narrative story on it with a Rotbringer getting rather upset over the mistreatment of a poor little Nurgling. The page opposite gives us three unique quests for Nurgle; Spread Corruption, Gardener of Nurgle, and Feculent Devotions. Spread Corruption has you earning points for winning major victories, and after 3 points you can seed a territory you control and turn it into a patch of the garden. Gardener of Nurgle has you earning points for both minor and major victories, and once you have enough you can play the Seeds of Corruption battleplan. Finally, Feculent Devotions gives you points for each Feculent Gnarlmaw you set up once the battle begins. Once you've earned 3 points you complete the quest and can give each Plaguebearer Host and Plague Drones unit a veteran ability for the next game you play, that can only be used in that battle.

There are six unique veteran abilities for your units to pick from, and each of them is a once per battle ability. These are in addition to the normal ones from the core book. There are some really cool ones in here like Driven by Devotion, which gives you 1 contagion point for each enemy MODEL slain by that unit in the combat phase, or Revolting Resilience which gives the unit +1 to their Disgustingly Resilient roll.

There are also six unique territories for the Maggotkin faction to control. When making an exploration roll there are results 61-66. These are also the territories you can turn other territories into when you seed them. There are Crawling Swamp, Meadows of Arcane Corruption, Befouled City, Fortress of Corroded and Iron and Blubber, Feculent Forest, and Filth Pit. They each give you a unique bonus, such as Crawling Swamp, which increases your monster limit by 2, and also has you roll a dice in the aftermath sequence. On a 6 you can add a Beast of Nurgle unit or reinforce an existing one without having to spend any glory points.

Lastly, we get two unique battleplans. Seeds of Corruption can only be played when doing the Gardener of Nurgle quest. As the Nurgle player you don't start the game with any Gnarlmaws. Instead, their are three points marked on the map for the battleplan that you need to plant a Gnarlmaw on via summoning. If you plant all three you win, otherwise you lose. Encroaching Corruption is a battleplan that can be played in any Path to Glory game, as long as one player is a nurgle army. Your army must include at least one of the following; Great Unclean One, Horticulous, Glottkin, Festus, or a Gnarlmaw. You win if you have one unit from that list in your own territory, and one in your opponents territory at the end of the game. The defender also has a special command ability that allows them to remove nearby Gnarlmaws on a 2+ called Burn Out the Rot. If Nurgle wins they can seed a territory, and if they lose the opponent can revert a territory. 

All of the Path to Glory rules seem like a lot of fun to me, especially the battleplans. I love the idea of getting rewarded for planting more Gnarlmaws and pretty much every one of the veteran abilities is great. I would really love to try out some Path to Glory rules in my games of AoS in general, so maybe my Maggotkin army is where I'll start. As for the lore, I think they've done a great job of freshening up the older lore so it doesn't feel repetitive and the additions they've made to it are great. I really like how they tied it into the Dawnbringer Crusades. There's nothing seismic in term of changes, but it's a nice progression of what Nurgle would be trying to achieve in the Mortal Realms.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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