Saturday, December 11, 2021

REVIEW: Maggotkin of Nurgle Rules Review

The new Maggotkin of Nurgle book is finally here! This was the oldest non-updated Battletome still out there, and also one of my favorite armies in AoS, so I was very excited to crack it open and check it out. I ended up writing so much about it that I'm actually doing a first here at Mengel Miniatures, splitting the review in two. This first part of the review is going to be covering all of the rules, while my second part, coming in a few days, will cover the lore and the Path to Glory section.

Nurgle, what's not to love. In my (correct) opinion, he is the best of the Chaos gods, and a lot of fun to collect and play. I'm a big fan of the armies that can withstand a bit of attrition, hence my Nurgle and Death armies. So, what's changed since the book that came out in the tail end of 1st edition?

First off, thank you to Games Workshop for sending me this review copy for free. There's a lot to go over here, and I actually have a fairly good grasp on what I'm talking about with this army, as they're one of the main ones I play, so I'm very familiar with the old rules. I'd say, in a general sweeping kind of statement, the rules and warscrolls for Maggotkin of Nurgle are about 50/50 with massive changes and staying more or less similar to how they were. As we saw with the Orruk and Stormcast book, and as I expect to see with future books, there's a lot of streamlining going on when it comes to profiles and abilities.

Let's start off with the Allegiance Abilities. One of the biggest changes here is the introduction of Diseased. In this rule, any enemy unit that's within 3" of any friendly Maggotkin of Nurgle units at the start of the movement phase and end of the combat phase, gets 1 Disease Point. This means if a unit is within range of 3 Maggotkin units, then they still only get 1 Disease Point, but over the course of a turn they can get 2 in this manner, 1 in the movement phase, and 1 in the combat phase. There are also other ways that you can give enemy units Disease Points with spells, traits, artifacts, and unit abilities. An enemy unit can only ever have a maximum of 7 Disease Points. At the start of the battleshock phase you roll a dice for each Disease Point an enemy unit has and for each 4+ they suffer a mortal wound. At the end of the battleshock phase the number of Disease Points an enemy unit has is reduced to 1. It's important to note that this happens both in your turn, and their turn, so that's a lot of mortal wounds you can potentially do over the course of a game. Enemy units that have abilities that allow them to heal wounds can instead remove Disease Points if they choose to.

The next rule ties into this with Diseased Weapons, and applies to all Maggotkin of Nurgle units, both mortal and demons. Any unmodified to hit roll of a 6, either shooting or melee, does a Disease Point to the enemy unit in addition to its normal damage.

Another huge change is that Disgustingly Resilient has now been moved to an army wide allegiance ability. It still provides a 5+ ward save as before, but also now allows every unit with it to heal 1 wound at the start of your hero phase. This means a few things. First off, and most importantly, EVERY Maggotkin unit now has this, both mortals and demons. Blightkings, Nurglings, everything. That's a huge buff and makes our army even more Resilient. The other change this implies, is that when these units are taken outside of a Maggotkin army, either as allies or in something like the Legion of the First Prince, they don't get this ward save. This means Plaguebearers and such won't be as viable outside of this army anymore. Overall, it's a fantastic change and really buffs us.

Tying into that rule, Locus of Fecundity is a rule that means any units with it heals D3 wounds instead of 1 as well as any units within 14" of it. Great Unclean Ones, Horticulus Slimux, the Glottkin, and Festus all have this innately. There are also a few other ways to gives units this ability through other means later in the book.

Contagion Points are also back, and are pretty much the same. At the start of your hero phase you earn 3 if you have friendly Maggotkin units wholly within your territory, another 3 if you have friendly Maggotkin units wholly within your opponents territory, and an additional 1 each if there are no enemy units within that territory as well. Again, there are multiple way to generate these in other ways in this book as well. At the end of your movement phase you can spend these points to summon on demon units, 9" away from enemy units, and wholly within 7" of a Gnarlmaw or a Maggotkin hero.

Maggotkin armies also have new coalition rules. This means 2 out of every 4 units can be from Slaves to Darkness, 1 out of every 4 can be Skaven Pestilens, and 1 out of every 4 can be Beasts of Chaos. All of them have to have the Nurgle keyword, and in the case of Beasts, they receive the Nurgle keyword. An important thing to note here is that 90%+ of the rules in this army work off of the Maggotkin of Nurgle keyword, and not just the Nurgle keyword. This means there's not as much synergy with Nurgle units not from the Maggotkin book anymore. As in, Coalition units won't receive any of the Allegiance Abilities above. It's cool that we finally got access to Beasts though.

Lastly for the Allegiance Abilities, the Cycle of Corruption is back! It works in exactly the same way, but the effects for each stage of the cycle have changed. For example, there's one that gives all Maggotkin heroes a 4+ ward, another that makes it so enemy units are -1 to charge and can't pile in, and another that adds 1 to your disease rolls, meaning they'll go off on a 3+ instead. There are seven cycles in total, and pretty much all of them give you something good.

Before I move onto the Command traits and such I want to touch on the Gnarlmaw, as this has changed dramatically. You get one for free with your army, and it's set up in your own territory, 3" away from all other terrain, objectives, etc. It's impassable now, so no units or models can move over it at all. When you set up new Gnarlmaws they have to be at least 7" away from each other, and if their abilities are turned off, such as by a Monster, then you remove the whole tree. Most importantly though, they only do two things now. They count as a Maggotkin unit when it comes to Disease Points, meaning enemy units will get a Disease Point from them if they're too close, and they generate 1 Contagion Point each in your hero phase if there are no enemies within a certain range of them. The ability to run and charge when near them is gone. This means the Maggotkin are a pretty slow army now. In fact, a lot of the movement values on individual warscrolls has gone down as well. It makes more sense from a lore perspective. It always seemed like Nurgle should be more of a slow and plodding army than a fast one. The army as a whole is more resilient, which should help with the speed factor a bit. Faster units, such as Plague Drones and Blightlords are more important. Probably some Coalition units as well. You'll be trading a bit of synergy for some mobility there. It's a HUGE shift in play style for the army, but I like it. It feels right for the faction and I think the book as a whole still seems pretty powerful.

For Command Traits, there are now only two categories instead of three. The Rotbringer and Mortal Nurgle sections from the last book have been combined into one Maggotkin Mortal section, and then a Demon section as well, This goes for all of the Enhancements. The mortals have 6 command traits to pick from, with some classics in there, like Grandfather's Blessing, which lets you move the Cycle of Corruption once per battle. I quite like Infernal Conduit, which lets you generate up to D3 additional Contagion Points at the start of each of your hero phases. Overpowering Stench is also really good, preventing any enemy units within 7" of the character from issuing or receiving command abilities. This can be key when it comes to battleshock. Demon characters have 3 to pick from. Gift of Ferbile Frenzy is a once per battle ability which adds 1 to the attack characteristic of any Maggotkin unit wholly within 7" of the general for that combat phase. This kind of replaces the old command ability which Great Unclean Ones had, since they no longer have a command ability on their warscroll. I also like Pestilent Breath which is a horde killer. You pick an enemy unit within 7" and roll a dice for each enemy model within 7" and on a 5+ you do a mortal wound.

The mortal artifacts have 7 to choose from with several stand outs. The Splithorn Helm gives the bearer a 4+ Disgustingly Resilient save, while Rustfang makes a return and lets you pick an enemy hero within 3" once per battle and make their save -1 for the whole game. The Fecund Flask is also pretty good, and fun as well. It's once per battle and on a 2+ you heal all wounds, while on a 1 the character dies and is replaced by a Beast of Nurgle model. On the demon side The Endless Gift is back, but changed. It now makes the model always count as being within 14" of a model with the Locus of Fecundity. Obviously this does nothing for a Great Unclean One, so it's best on one of the other demonic heralds. My favorite is the Witherstave, which is another returning artifact but with completely different rules. You now add 1 to the Disease roll for any enemy units within 7" of the bearer. On normal rolls this makes it mortal wounds on a 3+, but if it happens to be the phase of the cycle that already does this, then it makes it a mortal wound on a 2+. I think this will almost always be the one I take on a Great Unclean One.

The spell lores have 6 for mortals and 3 for demons. Blades of Putrefaction now makes it so the unit you pick does a disease point on the enemy on a 5 or 6 instead of doing straight up mortal wounds instead. Rancid Visitation can be amazing if you're close enough. It's like the Pestilent Breath command trait, but goes off on a 6, a range of 7", and does a mortal wound on a 2+. Get your mortal sorcerer close enough to the enemy and wipe out a horde. I think this would be best on a combat sorcerer which is pretty much the Glottkin or Bloab. My favorite demonic spell is Fleshy Abundance. This goes off on a 7 with a range of 14". You pick a friendly Nurgle Demon unit within range and add 1 wound to each model. This can be insane on a unit of Plaguebearers, which, spoilers, now have 2 wounds each! This means with the spell they can have 3 wounds each, making a 30 strong unit have 90 wounds! At the end of the turn you lose the extra wound, which means you may end up losing another model, but that's a super small price to pay for having a 90 wound roadblock. Park them on a key objective with Inspiring Presence and watch them not move at all.

This is followed by the Plague Legions and Contagiums, essentially the equivalent of Stormhosts for Nurgle. There are 3 that are demon focused, and 3 that are mortal focused, but they're not restrictive and you can mix and match demon and mortal units in each one. The Munificent Wanderers do 2 disease points for each unit of Plaguebearers with 10 or more models, instead of 1. This is okay, but is only really best on a unit that's at least reinforced once. The Befouling Host is my favorite. This is the Plague Legion that I actually based my demonic color scheme on back when I started my Maggotkin, so I'm a bit biased. It also plays into my favorite play style with them as well. If your army has a Demon general, then you get to set up 2 Gnarlmaws instead of 1 at the start of the game. If you couple this with Horticulus (who in the lore is in this legion anyway) who gets to set up another Gnarlmaw for free, then you can have 3 Gnarlmaws very early on in the game. Each of these tree nets you 1 Contagion Point each, coupled with the 3 you start with for being in your own territory and hopefully the +1 for having no enemy units in your territory, you can start with 7 Contagion Points, which is enough to summon on a Bilepiper or Scrivener turn 1. With how high points have gotten with this army, that may be a key way to include those models, while still including more units in your army. I just love the summoning mechanic for Nurgle, as well as the idea of growing the garden. Lastly for demons we have the Droning Guard, who subtract 1 from hit rolls targeting Plague Drones in the first turn or when they first show up on the table, since there is a way to deep strike them in now. Some of these also unlock new battleline, with Beasts of Nurgle being battleline in a Befouling Host army, and Plague Drones being battleline in a Droning Guard army.

On the mortal side we start with the Blessed Sons, which is your classic Rotbringer scheme. When a mortal Maggotkin model dies within 1" of an enemy model you roll a number of dice equal to the wounds characteristic of the model that died. For each 6 give the enemy unit 1 disease point. It's kind of like a Nurgle version of the Stormcast ability. With the high wounds values of mortal Maggotkin models this could be a lot of disease points. The Drowned Men are Gutrot Spume's gang. Before the first battle round begins every Blightlord unit and Lord of Affliction can move 8". This is a really cool scout move and replicates the ability that the Affliction Host battalion used to give them in the old book. This Contagium also makes Blightlords battleline. Lastly, we have the Filthbringers. This has a special rule called Rot Covens, which is a special unit choice of 3 Rotbringer Sorcerers for a discounted price of 360 points. Even though you buy them as a unit, they act independently and don't need to stay near each other or anything. You pick can one of the Sorcerers and add 1 to casting and unbinding rolls, or add 2 if that model is within 3" of one of the other Sorcerers, or add 3 if they're within 3" of both of the other Sorcerers.

As with the Stormcast and Orruk books we get some unique Grand Strategies and Battle Tactics for the Maggotkin. There are 4 Grand Strategies to pick from, with Tend the Garden being my favorite. You complete this one if at the end of the game if you have at least 1 Gnarlmaw with no enemy units within 3" of it, and at least 1 Gnarlmaw wholly within your opponent's territory. This doesn't have to be the same Gnarlmaw either. This really plays into my Befouling Host plans. Corrupt Arcane Nexus is completed if you have a wizard within 3" of the center of the battlefield and no enemy units within 6", which seems a bit harder to complete to me.

On the Battle Tactics side we get 6 to choose from. Feed the Maggots is pretty good, which is completed if at least 7 enemy models are slain by disease rolls. If you pick this on the turn where the cycle gives you +1 to those rolls you're even more likely to get it. It's also fairly hard for your opponent to deny unless they have a lot of healing abilities. Nurture the Gnarlmaw is completed if there is a Gnarlmaw within 12" of enemy units at the start of the turn, and is clear of enemy units at the end of the turn. This could be easy to get if you have a weak unit, or a small hero near one far away from the rest of the enemy army. Sudden Domination sounds pretty fun, but may be a little tricky. You complete it if you SUMMON on a Great Unclean One that turn, and it is within 3" of an objective that you control in your enemy's territory. So either you already need to have pretty firm control of that objective to start with and are able to summon right on it, or hope you make some good charge rolls. You will also need to have 30 Contagion Points to even summon it.

For the Core Battalions we get two, one for demons and one for mortals. The demon one is the Thricefold Befoulment, which is 3 Great Unclean Ones. This gets you the extra enhancement. The mortal one is the Rotbringer Cyst, which is 1-3 mortal Maggotkin heroes with less than 10 wounds, and 3-6 mortal Maggotkin units, and give you the one drop. Both of these seem okay at best. Thricefold will be good for players who invested in 3 Great Unclean Ones due to the battalion from the last book and still want to field them in a meaningful way. Rotbringer Cyst might be good if you're looking to do just a bunch of Blightkings and Blightlords with no other unit variety. They're both very good units now, but are also a lot of points. I might just do the generic one drop battalion instead and get some variety in the army.

Now we're onto the Warscrolls, and there are quite a few changes, so I'm just going to touch on some of the biggest ones or ones that really interest me. To start with, Great Unclean Ones got a boost in wounds, up to 18 for regular ones and 20 for Rotigus. The regular one also got a lot better in combat, with better rolls and more damage per attack. This is good as they always felt like a bit of a let down in combat before. They lost their command ability, Bloated With Corruption now does a disease point instead of a mortal wound, and Mountain of Loathsome Flesh is now a monstrous rampage you can do. The Bileblade now allows you to cast an extra spell instead of giving you +1 to cast, and the Bell is now a way to generate extra Contagion Points instead of a speed boost. Their damage table has also changed, allowing them to take some more damage before they start degrading. Both the Scrivener and Bilepiper are fairly similar to their revised warscrolls from the Broken Realms books, but the Poxbringer has changed. He's still a wizard, but he's a bit more combat oriented now. He has a special rule called Captain of the Tallybands, which is when you pick him to fight in the combat phase, you can pick a Plaguebearer unit wholly within 12" of him and the two get to fight one after the other in whichever order you choose. I'm a big fan of combo stuff like this.

Epidemius may finally be worth taking! (good news for my elaborate conversion I did of him a year ago) The Tally rule now works completely differently. At the start of your hero phase you roll 3 dice for each Great Unclean One, 2 dice for each Plaguebearer units of 10 or more and each Gnarlmaw, and 1 dice for each other Maggotkin unit he can see, and for each 5+ you add 1 to his tally to a maximum of 7. So if you roll 15 dice, and get 8 that roll a 5+, you still only get 7 on the tally. For each number on your tally you get to re-roll 1 ward roll, casting roll, dispelling roll, or unbinding roll for any Maggotkin unit in your army. These carry over to following rounds too if you don't use all of them, and then you can add back to them at the start of your hero phase. He's also only 145 points now. You'll want to keep him out of harm's way, but still within line of sight of most of your army. It seems pretty cool and I'm excited to give him a try.

Perhaps the biggest change for Nurgle demons are the Plaguebearers. These guys now have 2 wounds each! Their save has decreased to a 6+ and they lost the Locus that gave them +1 to their save if they're near a hero, but I'll take the trade. You can still do All Out Defense on them to get their save back to a 5+. The Cloud of Flies rules is now a -1 to hit them with missile weapons if they have 5 or more models. The banner now only brings back 1 model on a 1 instead of D6, which is a bit sad. These guys are the ultimate tar pit though. Beasts, Horticulous, and Nurglings are all pretty much the same. Nurglings have Disgustingly Resilient now though, since it's army wide, which makes them even harder to move with their Endless Swarm ability.

Plague Drones got a pretty big revamp. The Plague Sword is slightly better, with 1 more attack and a better to hit, but all of the Drone's attacks have been combined down to one profile. It's now 6 attacks, 3+ to hit, 3+ to wound, no rend, 1 damage. The D3 damage from the stinger is gone, which used to be the best since they had so many ways to increase the number of attacks. I think the combined profile is still pretty close to the average damage output of the old one though. The biggest buff they got is to the Death's Head missile attacks. This used to be a pretty bad shooting attack, that you would often sacrifice to run them. Now it's shorter range, but 3+ to hit, and the number of attacks is equal to the number of models in the target unit to a mx of 7. That means if you're targeting a unit of 10 models with 3 Plague Drones, you're rolling 21 dice! These do disease points on a 6 too. It's kind of like a shotgun attack to the face before they charge in and finish off the enemy. 

The Glottkin got a wounds boost, but are much slower now. Their attacks also got simplified down, but in general have better damage output. Horrific Opponent now works in the enemy movement phase if they're within 3" of the Glottkin. They roll 2D6 and if it's equal to or greaten than their bravery they either have to retreat or suffer D6 mortal wounds. They also have a new command ability called Blightkrieg. You use it at the end of the enemy movement phase if you're within 12" of an enemy unit. You pick another Maggotkin unit within 12" of an enemy unit and that unit and the Glottkin can both attempt a charge. All three of the Maggoth Lords have improved. Orghotts now has 14 wounds and has much better damage output. Bloab also got a wounds boost and damage improvement, and still has his awesome spell. Morbidex had the coolest change, with an ability that allows him to heal half of the wounds he has suffered so far at the end of the battleshock phase. 

The Lord of Afflictions has a better save, and a new ability that allows him to set up in the skies. Up to 2 units of Plague Drones or Blightlords in any combo can be set up with him like this, and then at the end of any of your movement phases you can bring them down onto the board 9" away from enemy units and wholly within 12" of each other. Both the Lord of Blights and Lord of Plagues have a Lord of the Blightkings ability, which lets them do the same thing the Poxbringer did with his Captain of the Tallybands ability, but with Blightkings. The Lord of Blights also gives 1 Blightking unit near enough to him the same Deaths Heads attacks that the Plague Drones have, but with -1 rend as well. Festus' spell is still awesome. The Harbinger is pretty different now, giving you D3 extra command points at the start of the first battle round if he's close enough to your general, and has an ability that goes off on a 3+ and makes it so an enemy unit within 3" cannot use or issue commands. It's a pretty different role, but good for denying Inspiring Presence. 

The Rotbringer Sorcerer got a bit of a buff to go along with the new model. The Stream of Corruption spell now has you roll 1 dice for every enemy model in the unit you pick that's in range and it does a mortal wound on a 5+. You can also say you're going to extend the range from 7" to 14", in which case it does a mortal wound on a 6+ instead. Also, any Endless Spells they cast count as being a Maggotkin model for the purposes of disease points. Fecula is pretty much the same as the regular Sorcerer, but a bit tougher and with her Blightking bodyguard. 

Speaking of Blightkings, they got a revamp as well. They now have 5 attacks each, 3+ to hit, 3+ to wound, -1 rend, and 1 damage. They also have an ability called Relentless Attackers which you do at the end of the combat phase. Pick an enemy unit within 3" of you, with a wounds characteristic of 3 or less, and roll 1 dice for each model in your unit within 3" of them. If you roll over their wounds characteristic it does a mortal wound. Pusgoyle Blightlords are pretty much the same, but on Rot Flies. They have 8 wounds, the additional Rot Fly attacks, can fly, move 8", and have an ability that does a version of impact hits when they charge.

I really love all of the changes to the units and rules here. I'm very interested to try out the disease points rule. Be sure to bring something with you to keep track of all of that as the game goes on. The points for everything have mostly gone up, meaning you're likely to have much smaller armies. Plaguebearers are now 150 points and Great Unclean Ones are 495 for example. Blightkings are 250! I think they're all worth it though, and with the summoning you're likely to grow your army beyond its starting size anyway.

That's it for the rules coverage, keep an eye out for the lore and Path to Glory coverage which will be coming out on Monday!

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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